Food crime unit to be set up in wake of horse meat debacle

Food crime unit to be set up in wake of horse meat debacle

The results of Professor Chris Elliott’s independent interim and much anticipated report into the horse meat scandal includes the proposal that a specialist food crime unit should be set up in the UK in order to improve the safety of UK food supply networks.

Professor Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University Belfast, was commissioned by Defra and the Department of Health back in May, and his findings recommend that the food industry should not relax efforts to provide safe food, “but must also consider the prevention of food crime a primary objective.” He also called on the food industry and the Government to create ‘intelligence hubs’ to gather, analyse and spread information about food crime.

BMPA director, Stephen Rossides: “We need to consider the report carefully in order to identify how to respond to and implement its recommendations."

BMPA director, Stephen Rossides: “We need to consider the report carefully in order to identify how to respond to and implement its recommendations.”

Responding to the report the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) said: “The interim report is a valuable analysis of the challenge of food crime both to consumers and to what the report recognises as “the vast majority [in the food industry] who are committed to complying with the law.”

BMPA director, Stephen Rossides, added: “We need to consider the report carefully in order to identify how to respond to and implement its recommendations. In doing so, we will need to work closely with our member companies, with other industry bodies and organisations and with Government in order to develop a coordinated and effective approach.

“In the light of the horse meat episode, many companies are reviewing their supply chains and carrying out regular testing of products in order to strengthen the integrity of their operations, in addition to the considerable level of audits that are conducted under a range of assurance schemes.

“We note and welcome the report’s statement that, “UK consumers have access to perhaps the safest food in the world.” But we also recognise that food crime, even when it does not pose a food safety risk, undermines public trust and confidence in the food industry. It is paramount that we restore and maintain that trust and confidence.”

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said: “I am pleased that Professor Elliott’s interim review recognises that there are good systems in place to ensure UK consumers have access to some of the safest food in the world. We want to keep it that way.

“It is appalling that anyone was able to defraud the public by passing off horse meat as beef. That is why I commissioned an urgent review into the integrity of our food network.”

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