Horse Meat

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, "25":"Horsemeat scandal In this feature l shortcuts l supply chain integrity l information sharing After Elliott Food, enforcement and the fallout from Horsegate Ivy Hughes reports on the food-supply conference hosted by the Royal Society for Public Health P rofessor Chris Elliott describes Horsegate as the biggest scandal tohit the UK in the past century. It impacted an industry worth nearly 100billion employing nearly four million people but no-one died and not a single person fell ill. So where was the scandal? Horsegate was a scandal because one ofthe worlds most advanced supply systems was penetrated by criminals, said Elliott, professor of food safety, and director of the Institute for Global Food Security, at Queens University Belfast, and author of the post-Horsegate Elliott Report. Meat was bought in the spot market* and shortcuts were taken from there. Whenever people start taking shortcuts, the food-supply system allows criminals in. Speaking to a tightly packedroom at the After Elliott: securing the integrity of our food supply conference hosted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Elliott argued that authenticity is one of the biggest challenges facing the food industry. Were thinking about food security and food sustainability in a way we havent in a long time, he said. Global supply systems make avoiding another food-authenticity scandal nearly impossible, but if industry, government and enforcement bodies change the way they view food authenticity they can vastly reduce crime, and improve public health, according to Elliott. To protect citizens, the 43 police forces in the UK need to share resources and information, and the consequences of committing Were thinking about food-authenticity crimes must food security and be punishments, rather than food sustainability in a a slap on the wrist. Above all, communication between all way we havent in a long time sectors needs to improve. Prof Chris Elliott We need to start sharing information industry with government, government with industry. That really did not happen during Horsegate, Elliott said. Since the scandal, information-sharing systems have been improved, and an association of associations has been established to foster communication within industry. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is alsoworking to increase its attention to food authenticity. Until Horsegate, the FSAs primary focus and the focus of local enforcement bodies, such as trading standards and environmental health officers was food safety because of its direct link to public health. That is changing, according to John Barnes, head of the Local Delivery Division for the FSA. H O R S e G aT e T I M e L I N e 2013 JaN UaRy 15 Food Safety Authority of Ireland identifies horse and pig DNA in beef products 16 Food Standards Agency issues first statement in response to FSAI news 24 The FSA issues statement on bute in horsemeat F e b R UaRy 4 Industry agrees to publish the results of a meat testing programme 7 Findus beef lasagne products test positive for horsemeat 8 Police investigate after evidence points to gross negligence/deliberate contamination of food chain 8 Aldi finds horsemeat in beef lasagne and spaghetti bolognese 11 Tesco finds horsemeat in some Everyday Value spaghetti bolognese 12 FSA raids meat plant 14 Arrests made at meat plants MaRCH 22 Hungarian horse meat found labelled as diced beef aPRIL 16 Results of Europe-wide beef product survey published 17 A review is agreed to be carried out into the FSAs response to the adulteration of processed beef products with horse and pig meat DNA Industry audits If you dont know the provenance of the food, its very unwise to say theres no food-safety risk, said Barnes, who believes that industry as well as government bodies need a lesson in information sharing. This is the opportunity this is a chance to work together, he insisted although Barnes later admitted the FSA and its partners havent nailed the challenge of information sharing with the food industry. On the issue of industry audits, Barnes and Elliott encourage a more focused approach. Elliott cited a case in which a food supplier he spoke with when compiling data for his report logged more than 300 audits in a year. Every audit was the same, but they might say you need your fire extinguisher in a different area, and someone would have to be there to move it, he said. Unannounced, better-focused audits are the way forward, and some retailers such as Asda have already agreed to unannounced visits. They [the auditors] should not just be auditing for compliance, but looking for things that dont look right, Elliott said. Those within industry and the FSA shouldnt be punished for whistleblowing, even if their actions dont bear fruit. We need to sharpen all ears, and if nothing else look for what is the unusual, the unexpected, Barnes said. Barnes and Elliott spoke of the need for educational resources on food safety. Elliott is working with the 14 UK universities that teach food health to develop a curriculum on detecting food fraud. detection tools Lab-testing resources also need focus and security. Alison Johnson, managing director of Food Forensics, suggested stable isotope ratio analysis (Sira) as a viable food-authenticity detection tool. It identifies a substance based on its isotopic signature and can show, with relative accuracy, whether the asparagus in your refrigerator is from Poland or the UK. Regardless of the testing methodology, if labs are based If labs are outside outside the UK in China, for the UK, foodexample UK food-authenticity authenticity testing is testing is at the mercy of the at the mercy of the political, political, economic, health and economic, health and environmental priorities of another environmental priorities of country, said Annette Barker, forensic accountant for KPMG. A another country typhoon or health emergency in Annette Barker China could put any UK-required testing on the back burner. In addition to discussing his recommendations, Elliott detailed the methodology behind the Elliott Report, joking that his decision to take on Horsegate was probably the worst decision of my life. He also answered a question about the Food Crime Unit, which was established in the wake of his recommendations, and which will be fully operational by December 2014. How will we know if it is successful? If it isnt expanded, I will ask some serious questions, Elliott said. He also addressed the late publication of the report, which was supposed to be released in July, but was withheld until September. The day before the report was scheduled for release, Elliott received a call from the government warning him of a reshuffle, which resulted in more than 40 new ministerial appointments. It wasnt a cover-up or a ban, as suspected, Elliott said. Rather, thenew ministers needed time to discuss the report before it wasreleased. Over the next few months, Elliott will continue talks with industry, government, and enforcement bodieswhile they review their policies andapproach to food fraud. When he is all chatted out, he will takethe holiday he was meant to have lastsummer. JUNe 4 Horsemeat review key findings presented by Professor Pat Troop 4 The secretary of state announces that Professor Chris Elliott will lead an independent review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks J U Ly 5 Horsemeat: final report by Prof Pat Troop into the FSAs response is published 12 FSA action plan issued following Troop report OCTObeR An update is published on the Elliott Review 2014 SePTeMbeR 4 Elliott Review Final Report is published, along with the governments official response a FTeR eLLIOT T THe CONFeReNCe Inspired by the release of the Inspired by the release of the Elliott Review of food-supply Elliott Review of food-supply networks in September, the networks in September, the conference gave attendees conference gave attendees from trading standards, the from trading standards, the food industry supply chain, food industry supply chain, laboratories, and finance a laboratories, and finance a chance to come to grips with its chance to come to grips with its results. results. Experts were on hand to Experts were on hand to advise delegates about auditing, advise delegates about auditing, forensic accountancy, supply forensic accountancy, supply chain, purchasing, scientific chain, purchasing, scientific solutions, and environmental solutions, and environmental health. health. Professor Elliott gave the Professor Elliott gave the keynote speech, going into keynote speech, going into detail about weaknesses in detail about weaknesses in the UKs food security which the UKs food security which came to light in the report and came to light in the report and highlighting important lessons highlighting important lessons the industry will need to learn to the industry will need to learn to reduce the likelihood of another reduce the likelihood of another scandal such as Horsegate. scandal such as Horsegate. * The spot market or cash market is a public financial market in which financial instruments or commodities are traded for immediate delivery. It contrasts with a futures market, in which delivery is due at a later date. Credits Published You might also like Ivy Hughes communications executive 25 November, 2014 Elliott Review full report atTSI. Images: Wetcake To share this page, click on in the toolbar TS TODAY "