FSA chief executive Emily Miles said the watchdog has met with members of industry to discuss ways of strengthening the food system against rogue actors and criminal activity.
A number of organisations have agreed to work in collaboration with the FSA, including the Association of Independent Meats Suppliers, the British Meat Processors Association, the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation, the Food Industry Intelligence Network and Red Tractor.
Planned improvements included:
- The implementation of a single telephone number or website whistle-blowers can contact to report concerns about food businesses
- To explore the strengthening the role that third-party audits can play in passing on information to regulators to prevent food fraud
- Review the best format and mechanism for the FSA to share intelligence-based alerts to better warn businesses about problems in supply chains
Safety, quality and integrity
Andrew Opie, director of Food & 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.”
The FSA is convening a working group with industry with a first meeting planned for this month.
Helen Sisson, director and co-chair of the Food Industry Intelligence Network, added: “We are fully committed to working with the FSA and our partners in the food industry to strengthen the system.
Confidence in UK food
“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.”
The FSA’s greater collaboration with the industry follows a series of investigations into meat fraud since the start of the year.
In March, an investigation was launched into industrial-scale country of origin fraud in the pork supply chain, with claims of rotten meat being supplied to care homes and hospitals.
An investigation by Farmers Weekly has discovered that an unnamed food manufacturer was – up until the end of 2020 – passing off sometimes thousands of tonnes of foreign pork as British. The manufacturer has also been accused of regularly “washing” hams that were visibly off, or mixing rotting pork with fresh product for further processing.