In a written ministerial statement, Owen Paterson, secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs announced that he and health secretary Jeremy Hunt had asked Professor Chris Elliot from Queen’s University Belfast to lead the review.
Paterson revealed in April that it was the government’s intention to carry out a strategic review of the horsemeat crisis and its implications for the food chain and regulatory framework – but it will now have a far wider remit.
Food supply chain networks
“We have since concluded that the review should examine food supply networks more widely. We have therefore asked Professor Elliott to provide advice to me and my Right Honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Health, on issues which impact upon consumer confidence in the authenticity of food products and any systemic failures in food supply networks which could have implications for food safety and public health,” according to Paterson’s statement.
“We expect him to make recommendations to support improvements in current systems and to improve consumer confidence.”
It is expected that the review will take nine to 12 months to complete. Elliot will provide interim advice in December and produce his final report by spring 2014.
Paterson added: “We have also asked Professor Elliott to provide emerging findings on the European aspects of the review so that we can continue to influence action at a European level and effectively engage in the European Union process.”
Integrity of food supply
Elliot will seek evidence, information and views on the integrity of the food supply network, examine vulnerabilities and assess how assurances might be strengthened to support consumer confidence.
“Food fraud is completely unacceptable and consumers have every right to expect their food to be correctly described. In response to horsemeat fraud, investigations continue at a number of sites across the UK and Europe,” the statement continued
In April, the board of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) commissioned Professor Pat Troop to conduct an independent review of that organisation’s response to horsemeat fraud.
Findings from that investigation will also be considered in this latest review.
Listen to Food Manufacture’s hour-long, free webinar on the lessons to be learnt from the horsemeat crisis – with the FSA, Mintel, Leatherhead Food Research and business law firm and event sponsor DWF – here.