Industry group tackles food fraud through intelligence
On the anniversary of the horsemeat scandal, the Food Industry Intelligence Network (FIIN) reports it has doubled its membership and data pool. The Network aims to use the intelligence it gathers to understand where food fraud risks can be found in the UK food and drink industry.
Since reporting first commenced, FIIN has collated over 250,000 product authenticity test results, which have been analysed and disseminated between members to provide insight and intelligence. Twenty per cent of the current membership represents companies with a turnover of £100m or less, who benefit from the pooling of combined resources and data.
Professor Chris Elliott, FIIN board member and independent advisor, said: “The more members we have, the greater our data-set and the more targeted and robust our intelligence becomes. This growth has meant there are greatly improved information collection and sharing systems now in place, and the opportunity for the UK food retail system to be penetrated or compromised is, thankfully, much reduced.
“However, there are some categories we would like to have wider representation in, such as alcoholic drinks, commodity food ingredients, and ‘food to go’ restaurants. To me these sectors remain highly vulnerable to fraud.”
The network has also signed agreements with the Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Food Standards Agency (FSA) National Food Crime Unit and Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to establish two-way pipelines of information exchange.
Ron McNaughton of FSS said: “Food authenticity is one of six strategic outcomes of the Food Standards Scotland’s five-year strategy, and ongoing information sharing is a key part of this. Our close links with FIIN and the benefits of a two-way intelligence sharing agreement ultimately help to support this aim.”
FIIN is responsible for bringing assurance to the supply chain and it represents food and drink industry businesses across multiple categories including food ingredients, fresh, chilled, ambient, bakery and herbs and spices.