BMPA at Foodex: Food fraud and the future for UK meat
Five years after ‘Horsegate’, the UK meat industry is once again facing scrutiny following a spate of new scandals. The panel will ask how industry and government can protect consumer confidence, covering everything from what needs to change in the supply chain to the future for schemes like Red Tractor and how fresh FSA regulations will affect the industry.
The difference between food fraud and food crime, according to the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), is one of degree. They explain that “Food fraud becomes food crime when the scale and potential impact of the activity is considered to be serious”. Actions become criminal when “there is significant risk to public safety, or … substantial financial loss to consumers or businesses.”
BMPA believes that the key to stamping out such activities lies in strong collaborative partnerships between the food industry and authorities like the NFCU and Food Standards Agency. While this is happening in some quarters, there is still work to be done before the system is perfect.
Creating a culture in which everyone is able and confident to share even minor suspicions of wrongdoing is vital.
Nick Allen explains that “as an industry we have quite a way to go to join up the plethora of schemes and inspection bodies that we have in order to create a co-ordinated and fuller picture of the supply chain
“This will mean that, when something doesn’t look quite right at one inspection, however minor, it could be cross referenced with other inspections and audits. In short, we have too much duplication of audits and inspections and not enough co-ordination.”
We will also need to embrace new technologies, like blockchain, as well as establishing a more centralised data hub within the industry in order to achieve better traceability.
Along with better co-ordination, BMPA advocates a more intelligence-led approach to auditing and inspections. Rather than applying a ‘one size fits all’ system, authorities can make decisions based on specific intelligence about a particular shipment or facility. This would enable them to channel limited resources to where they will have most effect and increase the odds of catching the ‘bad guys’.
In their guide to tackling food crime, the NFCU also highlights the role that individuals in the industry could play, saying that “creating a culture in which everyone is able and confident to share even minor suspicions of wrongdoing is vital.”
One thing is certain: if we want to stamp out the vulnerabilities to food fraud, the meat industry must collaborate to constantly improve. That way we will be able to maintain consumer confidence, avoid negative economic impacts and maintain our hard won reputation for having some of the highest standards in the world.
Join Nick Allen along with Norman Bagley (Association of Independent Meat Suppliers), Andy Morling (National Food Crime Unit) and Carina Perkins (Buying and Supplying Editor, The Grocer) for the debate at Foodex, 17 April at 1pm.
PANEL: Protecting consumers, inspiring confidence: the future for UK meat
Tuesday 17 April 1-2pm, Centre Stage