New Food Crime Unit to be set up by government

The government plans to set up a new Food Crime Unit by the end of the year, as recommended by the post-horsegate Elliott review final report, which was published today.

Professor Chris Elliott’s review, carried out in response to last year’s horsemeat scandal, has made a number of recommendations to tackle food fraud, which have all have been accepted by environment secretary Elizabeth Truss.

As well as setting up the Food Crime Unit, the government has said it will be “ensuring we have a resilient network of food analytical laboratories to test food consistently”, and “improving coordination across government to protect food integrity and tackle food crime”.

The final report said that a new Food Crime Unit, based on the Dutch model, should be created with the FSA which would become the lead agency for food crime. It continued that a strong central team and dedicated staff with specialist skills would be needed with a range of functions.

The government said the unit will be set up “to give greater focus to enforcement against food fraud in government by analysing intelligence, initiating investigations and liaising with other criminal and regulatory enforcement agencies”.

In response the report, Truss said: “We’re taking action to make sure that families can have absolute confidence in the food that they buy. When a shopper picks something up from a supermarket shelf it should be exactly what it says on the label, and we’ll crack down on food fraudsters trying to con British consumers.”

The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) director Stephen Rossides said: “The BMPA welcomes publication of the final report of the Elliott Review. We will need to study the report’s findings and recommendations carefully before responding in more detail.”