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THERE is currently a worrying lack of knowledge about the extent to which criminals have infiltrated the food industry and a significant change in culture is needed to deal with the threats of fraudulent activity that exist along complex food supply chains.
So says Chris Elliott, director of the Global Institute for Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, in an interim report into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks, which was published last week. In June, Professor Elliott was asked by the secretaries of state at Defra and the Department of Health to conduct a review of these areas and to consider issues that impact on consumer confidence in the authenticity of food products and to make recommendations. He is due to publish his final report in spring 2014.
Acknowledging that the UK food industry works hard to deliver safe, competitively priced products for consumers, Professor Elliott raises concerns about the vulnerability of the food industry and consumers to criminal activity: ‘I believe criminal networks have begun to see the potential for huge profits and low risks in this area,’ he says. ‘We need a culture within businesses involved in supplying food that focuses on depriving those who seek to deceive consumers.’ He notes that, currently, there is very limited intelligence about ‘food …
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