Defra group urges improvements to ensure food authenticity
Published:  09 March, 2015

Defra’s Authencity Methods Working Group (AMWG) has recommended the government needs to improve communication, data sharing and supply chain auditing in order to ensure food authenticity.

The AMWG has responded to recommendation four made in the Elliott review – improving laboratory testing capacity and capability to ensure a standardised approach for testing for food authenticity.

“The food industry and British food are an important part of our economy. While government and industry have already taken significant action in the key areas of the Review, it is right that we do not become complacent,” Defra reported.
Recommendations include better co-ordination of activities across governmental departments and food businesses to help them establish best practice for gathering and sharing information. Included in this is the establishment of a government group on food integrity, as well as the Food Crime Unit.

Defra also recommended finding a “safe haven” for information-sharing, where the food supply chain can share information with the government.

On supply chain audits the group recommended schemes should be strengthened to remove duplication and to cover food fraud prevention. The review said the government supported the action taken by the British Retail Consortium of leaning towards unannounced audits.

A more strategic approach to food analytical laboratories is also required to maintain a “resilient network of food analytical laboratories providing services for local authorities and businesses”. Defra reported it was already looking at options for improving standardisation of testing methodology, including establishing a ‘Centre for Excellence’ in food authenticity, which would link up laboratories.

Defra said the review was part of the government’s commitment to a strategic approach to ensuring the country has a resilient network of food analytical laboratories capable of testing consistently for food authenticity, using reliable methods, so that consumers can have confidence in the food they buy.