The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is exploring ways to prevent criminal activity in the food industry following the recent fraud allegations in the country’s meat sector.
Emily Miles, CEO of the FSA, has released an update regarding the meat fraud scandal, in which she stated several industry representative groups are set to work with the agency “to explore improvements to the current system”.
Following a recent “meeting with the food industry”, the FSA will review the “scope for a single telephone number or website” for whistle-blowers to contact, streamlining the process.
The agency will also try to “strengthen the role” that third-party audits can play in relaying information to regulators.
Finally, Miles stated the FSA will review the “best format and mechanism” for the agency to “share intelligence-based alerts to better warn businesses about problems in supply chains.”
Towards the end of March, UK meat-products supplier Loscoe Chilled Foods reportedly closed down following a criminal probe into the alleged mislabelling of the company’s products.
Three arrests were made after Booths, a supermarket chain based in the north of England, received pre-packaged sliced meats and deli products that were allegedly sourced from South America and Europe, but labelled as British.
Meanwhile, last month, trade publication Farmers Weekly reported a UK meat processor is being investigated for allegedly selling foreign pork it claimed was British as well as meat past its best.
The industry groups set to work in partnership with the FSA voiced their support for improving the approach. The groups include the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the Food Industry Intelligence Network and the British Meat Processors Association, among others.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Our members are fully committed to ensuring a high level of safety, quality, and integrity in the food chain.
“We support the Food Standard Agency’s review to look at improvements to the current system, including exploring a simpler, more refined hotline for whistleblowing, as well as ensuring information is shared as effectively and efficiently as possible to prevent and tackle food crime.”
Helen Sisson, director and co-chair of the Food Industry Intelligence Network, said: “We are fully committed to working with the FSA and our partners in the food industry to strengthen the system.
“It is imperative that the public has confidence in UK food and an important part of that is ensuring food crime in supply chains is identified and dealt with quickly,” she added.