The Mail, a UK on line paper this week told us of “A pizza, produced in Ireland that contained 35 ingredients from 60 countries. “ This sounded like a fitting project for a good food chain audit and management system. A closer look at the article revealed more about this complex food supply chain the list of the ingredients and where they had come from, for example
Cheese: Switzerland Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, UK, Netherlands
Chicken: Brazil, Ireland, UK, Netherlands, Germany
Anchovies: Peru, Argentina, Italy, Falkland Islands, Spain, Iceland, Denmark.
Pepperoni: Poland, Italy, Ireland, UK, Denmark, USA
Vegetables ‘from a host of Mediterranean countries’
Olive oil: Italy, Greece, Spain.
Chilli Peppers: ‘Africa, Asia, South America’
This pizza was going to need an awfully big base to carry them all at once.
So how did they get it into the Oven?
Time for a closer look at the original National Audit Office report that was initiated to look into the Horse meat incident.
There we discovered that the list was showing the countries through which these ingredients had travelled or had been traded to be incorporated into a line of pizzas and included the seasonal alternative sources. What the NAO was illustrating was how much harder it had become to determine what was actually in food because of the long, international supply chains.
The agency came to the conclusion that whilst the systems for identifying and testing for risks to food safety was relatively mature and effective, the arrangements for authentication of food and ingredients was not.
The report points to confusions of responsibility between the UK’s three main departments involved in food regulation and protection. It highlights the complexity of sources of data and intelligence on food fraud and authentication.
The NAO report is primarily intended to inform the Government and its agencies, but the food industry up and down its complex chain can also take note.
Is it time for the food industry to centralise and share intelligence about the food chain? Especially where food fraud and food safety is concerned!
The ‘big pizza’ is also a useful example when the food industry talks to the politicians who are demanding that in future a product’s packaging should declare all the countries of origin of the ingredients.