/ Food & Drink

A new Food Crime Unit to stop a horsemeat repeat

Food fraud

The Government has today accepted the recommendations of the Elliott Report in full, including the establishment of a new Food Crime Unit. Will this give you more confidence in the food you buy?

I don’t know about you, but the horsemeat scandal really hit my confidence in the food I eat. The contamination of meat products across Europe made it starkly obvious that we didn’t really know what was going into our food and that fraud could be widespread.

We’ve been calling on the Government to take urgent steps to ensure a horsemeat-type scandal can’t happen again. Or, if it does, that it can be spotted sooner and those adulterating our food are caught and held to account through the Courts.

Professor Chris Elliott was commissioned by the Government to examine how food fraud incidents could be prevented from happening again. His report has now been published, and in a big win for our Stop Food Fraud campaign supporters, the Government has agreed to his recommendations in full. Hurrah! But what’s in the report, and is it any good?

Putting your needs first

Central to the Elliott Report is a ‘consumer first’ approach, where industry, government and enforcement agencies will always put the needs of consumers above all other objectives. We strongly support this emphasis (as you would expect), and we now want to see the Government outline how it intends to ensure your needs are top priority in food crime prevention.

One concern that became apparent during the horsemeat scandal was the lack of coordination across the Government and the Food Standards Agency. It’s quite worrying that since 2010 there hasn’t been effective means of coordination on food issues. This has been recognised in the Elliot Report – ministers will now meet regularly to discuss food crime to ensure problems are identified and rapid action is taken.

New Food Crime Unit

We had no idea how long horsemeat was present in our food, and there’s also the possibility that other foods out there are subject to adulteration. That’s why we need a body to take responsibility for investigating food crime – step forward the ‘Food FBI’ (as it’s been dubbed by the Daily Mail). This new Food Crime Unit (its formal description) will be set up by the end of 2014 and will be placed in the Food Standards Agency.

This Food Crime Unit is modelled on examples seen around the world, and will introduce capabilities for law enforcement style investigations into food crime. It’ll be key to identifying and prosecuting more of the criminals that mess with our food.

We welcome the publication of the Elliott Report and the Government’s full acceptance of its findings. We now want the Government to quickly implement all of the recommendations so that you can be confident in the food you buy.

Do the measures announced by the Government increase your confidence in the food you buy? What do you think about the introduction of a Food Crime Unit?

Will a new Food Crime Unit give you more confidence in the food you buy?

Yes (60%, 1,361 Votes)

Don't know (21%, 480 Votes)

No (19%, 422 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,263

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Profit not quality is the principle used by the big monopolies in the retail food trade and when the government decide to take action the employment blackmail comes into full operation. I hope LIDL and ALDI will rectify this.
The so called bloodsuckers dictate to suppliers including size of potatoes and tomatoes, quality is not a priority, profit and greed not the health of the nation is their priority.

NO its not kapalistiks fault, it’s ours for daring to want cheap food and forcing hard up manufactures to break the law, or so the media thread ran when horsemeat first found, oh! those darling journalist do love lecturing us.

Billy Megger says:
16 September 2014

I can agree with all the above comments. But as usual. nobody appear to accept their part in this scandal caused by buying from the supermarkets or cheap outlets. Wake up people, the answer lies in your own hands by only buying from outlets that you trust and can inform you of where the product came from. Your money is a more powerful tool than any regulation. This applies to any commerce- your money can control it.

Easier said than done, Billy. Many people have no effective choice of meat supplier. We live near a town of 25,000 people and there are probably another 10,000 living in the surrounding vilages. There is only one butcher’s shop and, as I mentioned earlier, their meat comes off a lorry in cardboard boxes. I expect they know where it comes from all right but it certainly isn’t from Arthur Fallowfield’s farm down the lane.

Billy – All meat has to be safe to eat, wherever we buy it from. That is the law.

Billy Megger says:
23 September 2014

John-we live in Cumbria. In our town we have two butchers. Check out Quality Butchers or Q butchers. With good transport links and a freezer, you will be able to access one. We have just travelled 100 miles to take a lamb for my son’s freezer. It was cut to our specification, bagged and labelled. We picked it up from the local butchers in a cardboard box and the lamb originated from our local farmer. It isn’t easy to find butchers or even good butchers but whose fault is that. Stop buying from the local butcher and they close down. Then the local abattoir closes down-then farmers struggles and goes under. Then a speculator buys up the land and builds houses on it.
The problem today is that most people are only interested in their profit.

wavechange, “All meat has to be safe to eat, wherever we buy it from. That is the law. “. As we all know people will either ignore the law, sell non-compliant mesat unknowingly, or as criminals will be involved deliberately put unsafe cheap mesat into the market to make money (e.g. condemned chicken).
It is no good relying on rules and regulations. We need honest public-spirited people who see these problems within their workplace being able to report such problems in confidence to someone who will take swift action. Should be Trading Standards. Fund them properly.

For “mesat” read “meat”! Sorry – I should read my post more carefully before pressing submit.

Billy Megger says:
23 September 2014

what ever you say wavechange.. No doubt the horse meat was safe, it just wasn’t beef

Billy – Meat has to go through procedures and checks before it is passed as fit for human consumption. Can you be sure that horse meat passed off as beef has gone through these procedures? It seems unlikely.

I would be happy to try horse meat provided it was sold as horse meat and passed as fit to eat.

Billy Megger says:
23 September 2014

I think you have got side tracked here. My comments refered from the beginning with the fact that the people buying from supermarkets are the cause of the decline of traditional butchers. I have never mentioned anything about safety of the meats. Even though I was aware that a lot of beef was sold off at one time that came from the ECC beef storage mountains. It was never mentioned, as far as I was aware, that this ” fresh meet” had been in cold storage for many years.

Billy – This Conversation is about the new Food Crime Unit. The safety of our food is paramount and the consumer is not in a position to know whether the food they buy is safe. One of the intentions of creating the FCU is to encourage those working in the industry to report breaches of regulations that could compromise public safety. It should also help to ensure that we buy what we pay for, not a cheaper substitute or ‘fresh’ meat that has been stored for months. As Malcolm has said, Trading Standards needs more funding to deal with criminals.

I don’t know whether meat from small butchers or giant supermarkets or is safer, but we must do our best to ensure that all food is safe, wherever we choose to buy it from.