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The Elliott Review



Back in June this year, Professor Chris Elliott was commissioned to conduct a review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks across the UK’s food system.

In the wake of the horsemeat scandal, Elliott was asked by the Secretary of State for Health and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to consider issues which impact upon consumer confidence in the authenticity of food products.

Elliott has today published an interim report on his findings, in which he calls for action to be taken to gather intelligence of the fraudulent activities that are going undetected in the UK’s food system, which is estimated to be worth over £188bn.

Since the publication of the review, at 9.30am this morning, many industry bodies including the British Retail Consortium and the Food Standards Agency have welcomed Elliott’s findings.

You will find a summary of Elliott’s approach below, with the final report planned for release in spring 2014.

Consumers First - Industry, government and enforcement agencies should, as a precautionary principle, always put the needs of consumers above all other considerations, and this means giving food safety and food crime prevention – i.e. the deterrence of dishonest behaviour – absolute priority over other objectives to ensure consumer confidence.

Zero Tolerance - In sectors where margins are tight and the potential for fraud is high, even minor dishonesties must be discouraged and the response to major dishonesties deliberately punitive.

Intelligence Gathering - There needs to be shared investment between government and industry in intelligence gathering and sharing, although to ensure its effectiveness all organisations must have regard to the sensitivities of the market.

Laboratory Services - Those involved with audit, inspection and enforcement must have access to resilient, sustainable laboratory services that use standardised, validated methodologies.

Audit - Industry and regulators must highlight audit and assurance regimes, to allow credit where it is due and to minimise duplication where possible. Audits of food supplies by producers, storage facilities, processors and retailers must be undertaken both routinely and randomly.

Government Support - Government support for the integrity and assurance of food supply networks should be kept specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (SMART).

Leadership - There is clear leadership and coordination of investigations and prosecutions; the public interest needs to be recognised in active enforcement and major penalties for significant food crimes.

Crisis Management - When a serious incident occurs the necessary mechanisms should be in place so that regulators and industry can deal with it effectively.

It is hoped that these measures, combined with the establishment of a European Union food fraud unit will act to protect consumers from fraud along the whole food chain.

If you want to discuss how Refresh PR can help boost consumer confidence in your brand, why not get in touch here.

 

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