Blog: Ben CooperElliott and Tacon star turns at UK seminar on supply chain

Ben Cooper | 4 February 2014

Setting up food "crime unit" in UK was essential in fighting fraud in supply chain, Prof. Elliott argued

Setting up food "crime unit" in UK was essential in fighting fraud in supply chain, Prof. Elliott argued

The Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum is never worried about setting itself an ambitious agenda for one of its keynote seminars, and so it was at yesterday's event held at the Caledonian Club in London, which set out to examine integrity and assurance in the UK food supply chain and the future work of the Groceries Code Adjudicator. 

The seminar boasted two 'star turns' in Professor Chris Elliott of Queen's University Belfast, the man appointed by the Government to head an inquiry into the horsemeat scandal, and Christine Tacon, who took up the role of Groceries Code Adjudicator in June last year.

Both lived up to their billing. 

Professor Elliott reiterated the findings of his inquiry, stressing that the scrutiny and auditing that takes place to monitor the UK food supply was geared primarily around guaranteeing food safety and not to detect fraud. He welcomed new steps taken by the Europol and EFSA to address food crime and called for a food crime unit to be set up in the UK. 

Setting up a food crime unit - Elliott believes this should be referred to as criminal activity rather than fraud - in the UK won't be easy or free, he told the audience, which included food industry and government representatives, but was now an "essential requirement" to ensure consumer protection.

He is garnering responses to his initial findings in advance of his final report which he expects to publish in the late spring.

Significantly, Elliott stayed as an observer for the second session, in spite of what must be an extremely busy schedule. No doubt, he viewed the content of the second section to be pertinent to his final report, underlining how interlinked the two areas the seminar was tackling are.

Tacon was frank and disarmingly open about the task before her. She is clearly determined to overcome what many in the food industry see as the primary obstacle to the effectiveness of the Groceries Supply Code of Practice (GSCOP), and that is the unwillingness of suppliers to make specific complaints under the code for fear of jeopardising any future relationship with one of the ten major retailers with a turnover of more than GBP1bn which it covers.

That "fear factor" speaks to the uneven power relationship which exists between food suppliers and the major grocery chains, which was in essence why the Code came into being in the first place back in 2010. 

It remains to be seen whether the powers of investigation and anonymity that Christine Tacon's role brings will encourage more suppliers to come forward. However, judging by the positive remarks from all sides about her performance yesterday, it appears she has made a good start in a challenging role. 

BLOG

Auchan strikes another purchasing deal with retail rival

Just weeks after announcing a purchasing tie-up in France with local rival Systeme U, Auchan has outlined an international agreement with Germany's Metro Group....

NEWS

Savola reports mixed nine-month profits

Saudi food-to-retail group Savola has posted a mixed set of profit figures for the first nine months of the year....

BLOG

Tesco profits plunge, chairman departs

Tesco has reported a massive 92% drop in first half profits as the accounting fiasco continues to widen....

BLOG

Hoping for a more mature discussion on GM

A conference being held in London today is taking on the ambitious topic of agricultural technology and specifically will be looking at the implementation of the UK government's Agricultural Technolog...

BLOG

Nestle, ConAgra ditch "diet" for "wellness" in frozen food push

As the importance of health has grow in consumers' minds, frozen food has been left out in the cold. But two major manufacturers in the US are looking to heat up the sector by claiming frozen food mea...

just-food homepage



Forgot your password?