4 Sep 2014

Food crime unit to be setup in wake of horsemeat scandal

Ministers back a recommendation to create a crime unit that will have special powers to tackle food fraud, following a government report into the horsemeat scandal of last year.

The report was commissioned to avoid a repeat of last year’s horse meat scandal, when it transpired that consumers had been sold falsely labelled meat.

Professor Chris Elliott has recommended that the new food crime unit should conduct unannounced audits and pursue a zero-tolerance policy and highlighted the need for food crime prevention to become a “top priority”.

He said that although the UK has one of the safest food systems in the world, “consumers must be able to trust that the food they consume is what it claims to be”.

He added: “I believe the creation of the national food crime prevention framework will ensure measures are put in place to further help protect consumers from any food fraud incidents in the future”

Report recommendations

Other recommendations included in the report are:

  • Facilitating a whistleblowing system
  • Better intelligence gathering
  • An improved laboratory testing capacity
  • To encourage a culture to question the source of supply chain
Read the full report on gov.uk

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has said that all suggestions will be accepted: “The action we’re taking gives more power to consumers – meaning they’ve got better labelling on food, better education about where their food comes from, and better, locally-sourced food in schools and hospitals.”

The horsemeat scandal started in January 2013 when horse DNA was found in frozen hamburgers on sale in several supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda and Iceland which led to a massive public outcry.