By the end of 2014, the UK’s consumer confidence will be strengthened by a new food crime unit – but what does this mean for Britain’s food industry? The food crime unit has been set up in the wake of the horsemeat scandal among other fraudulent incidents, and was recommended by Professor Chris Elliott.
Proposed in the Elliott report on ‘Integrity and assurance of Food Supply Networks,’ Chris Elliott put forward a list of recommendations to boost confidence of consumers following a spate of fraud within the industry. Elizabeth Truss, the Government’s Environment Secretary confirmed in September that every recommendation put forth by the report would be implemented. One such recommendation was to create a UK Food Crime Unit.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said, “We’re taking action to make sure that families can have absolute confidence in the food that they buy. When a shopper picks something up from a supermarket shelf it should be exactly what it says on the label, and we’ll crack down on food fraudsters trying to con British consumers.
“As well as keeping up confidence here, we need to protect the great reputation of our food abroad. We’ve been opening up even more export markets, which will grow our economy, provide jobs, and support the government’s long-term economic plan.
“The action we’re taking gives more power to consumers – meaning they’ve got better labelling on food, better education about where their food comes from, and better, locally-sourced food in schools and hospitals.
As one of the world’s leading countries when it comes to high quality foods, the aim is to increase the dependability and consistency of Great British produce and its manufacturers, ensuring that shoppers understand the origin of their food and are no longer misled.
The Elliott report indicated that transparency and traceability is essential in every link of the food chain, as is supporting local authorities when it comes to identifying risks. Far too many companies are getting away with mislabelling on their products and deliberately misleading customers; the idea is that a UK crime unit specialising in food fraud will help tackle this issue.
With food and drink being one of Britain’s key commodities, the unit hopes to enforce a strong British identity in the food and beverages industry and to do so means eliminating risks of fraud. Businesses are urged to continue to improve their products and to be aware of every other company they deal with in the complex international food chain. Food safety and brand reputation software can help businesses stay compliant, in which case they have no need to worry about the new UK food crime unit.