/ 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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This is good news. I’m still surprised though that the culprits has not
been found yet

Raven1912 says:
4 September 2014

Whilst this is great news regarding the food we eat, I am not able to give any governmental body the thumbs up when most of the meat sold in supermarkets etc., has come from factory farms. These institutions treat domestic farm animals with appalling cruelty and the EU and British governments should close factory farms down. If you are not sure what conditions for animals are like in these godless places go to http://www.ciwf.org.uk/ Warning – be prepared for some very upsetting images.

4caster says:
5 September 2014

http://www.ciwf.org.uk/ does not exist. Are you sure you quoted it correctly, Raven1912?

skeptic John says:
4 September 2014

has any organisation been charged with the offence of passing off horsemeat as beef?

peter rumsby says:
4 September 2014

If the government hadn’t cut the staffing of the food inspection agency and ancillary services this wouldn’t be necessary as it would have been caught in the beginning and it is not back to previous staffing levels so will not make a huge difference as the systems of the crooks are well set to be able to anticipate our bureaucratic stumblings.

J. Elliott says:
4 September 2014

When the authorities state for instance, several supermarkets are selling chicken causing salmonella, they should tell the public the names of the supermarkets involved.

It’s a pity the plethora of cookery programmes, magazines etc., do not actually encourage or help people to learn how to cook simple meals from good fresh food, including how and what to buy that isn’t too complicated, unusual or expensive. I know LOADS of people who watch/read these but still only buy pre prepared food, ready meals and takaways!! There is sooo much joy in making real meals from real, fresh food and it doesn’t have to be long winded and complicated unless the cook wants it to be. Convenience foods should be just that, not every day, every meal.

I agree that cookery programmes such as Masterchef promote cooking as a spectator sport, where cookery is too complicated to be accomplished by mere mortals with busy lifestyles in kitchens which are not super-equipped !
These programmes are phenomenally popular so are unlikely to go away. But perhaps their presenters and/or participants could be required to include suggestions of other simpler ways to produce the same or similar dishes.

No! – yet again it misses the target! Halal ritual slaughtered meat is being served up to an unsuspecting public – in hospitals, schools, supermarkets – islam is running rings around us. They are funding islamic terrorism from the proceeds of their disgusting trade and our Quisling government kow-tows to them. The RSPCA don’t lift a finger – disgraceful! Just as the pc capitulators were scared to expose and prosecute the islamic child molesters out of fear of being branded ‘racist’, so they permit islamic junk food outlets and slaughter houses to prosper – out of fear of upsetting the ‘multi-culti’ myth which has taken us all by the throat. Camoron pretends he cares – he does not! Were he really to care, he would proscribe islam and its evil 7th century cult, with all its barbaric practices – that is the only way we will combat ISIL and all the other sickos who are sworn to our destruction – they, of course, are at the root of food crime, and we just let them do what they want out of sheer ignorance and cowardice. A government just tinkering around at the edges – petrified of upsetting their puppet master Fuehrerin Merkel and the EUISSR – we are sleepwalking to anihilation – genocide by any other name

Dorene McCormack says:
4 September 2014

There should be very clear and honest labelling on all foods we buy. I would not like to eat Halal meat and believe all meats should be labelled to show whether Halal is used.

As a Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner of some 43 years standing although I applaud the findings of the Elliot Report, I cant see this government rushing to set up a food crime unit as their current policy is to reduce regulation, red tape and the burden it allegedly places on business.

The reaction of the then Environment Secretary when the Interim Report was published in which a food crime unit was first proposed was, to say the least, lukewarm. The funding of public services has been drastically cut by this government including the budget of the Food Standard’s Agency so I doubt there will be any new money to fund or run it; it may well have to be found from elsewhere which may result in some other area of food safety or hygiene being inadequately resourced

i look forward to this new crime unit also investigating the criminals in the more mainstream industrial farming/processed food industry who continue to poison all of us every day with their deliberate use of things they know are extremely bad for our health like growth hormones, anti-biotics, pesticides, preservatives, artificial colours, refined sugars and toxic chemical sweetener alternatives, modified fats, etc, etc, etc.

PaulFisher says:
4 September 2014

Great news, but is this just another Quango that costs us a lot but gets nothing done?. Let’s hope not, the issue is too important.

will mitchell says:
4 September 2014

I am saying no because they are still cutting jobs in the local government food inspectors department.Its the usual, say one thing and do the other.Follow the money trail!!! As someone said,” if there is a list of food ingredients do not buy it”.Buy raw ingredients and cook it yourself.

The problem with capitalism is that the capitalists are never satisfied with a fair profit for their goods or services. Across the world big business is only concerned with increasing profit at any cost using any method. Adulteration, exploitation, rampant greed and fraud on a massive scale.
The government could and should introduce a corporate responsibility law with the power to shut down companies found guilty of illegal practices to boost profits. Owners, proprietors, all directors should take responsibility for such law breaking and face unlimited fines, taking away all their ill gotten gains until the corporate world understands it is not going to get away with such practices.

Tesco could be the first to go………

It is obvious from the taste of most supermarket eggs that salmonella is back again, but nothing is done about it. The problems with chicken and turkey make them unfit for purpose and not as described, yet nothing is done about it. Indeed, the buck is passed on to the consumer, who has to adopt special procedures when cooking them.
When those two problems (as well as halal, highlighted by a number of contributors) are eliminated, I will believe that the new department works. But not before.

The last time I had an egg it tasted fishy. There was no fish in our fridge at the time and even if there was it would be in a sealed container.

It will be a long time until I try another one.

I have no faith in this new agency, which will be another one stacked with senior civil servant’s cronies from the food cartel. Until there is a serious addressing of the control the food cartel has over civil servants and politicians we will continue to be ripped off. To suggest “criminal” elements being involved we need to start looking at the food cartel first as they must be actively engaged in allowing petty criminals to get a share in their spoils. We need to look at the food chain from the very start to see what is being done with genetic modifications, what is pumped into our food as it grows and then how it is processed. Research carried out is usually funded, directly or indirectly, by the food cartel so is always going to be biased in their favour. Research needs to be fully and transparently independent and until this happens I will not be believing any of it!

Will a new food crime unit give confidence to the public about the meat they are eating?. I do hope
so. I invested in a small food mincer. I buy my meat from the butcher whole and then if I want to
mince it I know that the food that I give my family is one hundred percent meat. It is worth the
investment for peace of mind and you are not lining the pockets of these unscrupulous rogues.

I want to say very well done to Which Magazine you have done another great job. Thank you
Which Magazine.

I’m never convinced a quango has any teeth, so why should this one be different?

I voted “don’t know” because I will only have confidence in the new body when I see it being effective. In other words, I distrust organisations especially commercial ones whose main motive is to work out how to screw yet more profit from their activity. You might say” The proof of the pudding is in the eating”.
But this is a step in the right direction, well done Which?

Much more needs to be done re food safety. The cuts to local authority environmental health and Trading Standards departments need to be restored. The Food Standards Agency too needs more staff and greater powers. The food industry is far too powerful which affects our health and the sustainability of growers of our food at grass roots. Without greater powers protecting consumers we will just lurch from one scandal to the next.

It was reported in the news yesterday that yes the government has accepted all the recommendations, BUT they HAD NOT put any money forward to pay for it.

So a new Food Crime Unit, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

And until the punishments these overseeing bodies can meet out is enough to make your eyes water, I can’t see much happening, as the money the villains can make will mean they won’t care about a piddly little fine.