TSI responds to the 'Elliott Review'
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) has welcomed the 'Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks' interim report, but has warned that the report's recommendations could be undermined unless resources are protected within local authority trading standards teams.
The interim report by Professor Chris Elliott, Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, published on 12 December, suggests a split between organised criminal investigations and ongoing advice and support to local business to combat food fraud, whilst acknowledging the current lack of resources for trading standards. It suggests the creation of a food crime unit, hosted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) but part of the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).
Elliott claims that food fraud is a widespread problem, linked to serious organised crime. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimated the UK food and beverage market (including food drink and catering) to be worth £188bn in 2012, and the report suggests the cost of criminal activity may be 'substantial.'
Recognising that the current problematic system of private auditing within the industry, coupled with a lack of incentive to report suspicious suppliers, along with ineffective and duplicated inspections by enforcers; the report recommends the food industry needs to put consumers first. A second report is expected in Spring 2014.
TSI's operations and policy director, Andy Foster, said: "TSI welcome the report from Professor Elliott. It shines a much needed light on a thriving criminal activity that risks undermining the whole food industry if there is not wholesale change. Too often commentators, politicians and industry have suggested food fraud is about low-level compliance issues and is a victimless crime; the report serves to articulate the very opposite is true, this is crime and on a very big scale.
"The recommendations to create a food crime unit and the recognition of the important work that local authority trading standards services are doing is welcomed, but we are concerned that unless something is done about resource cuts the food enforcement system will lose the capacity it needs to police the sector properly.
"TSI agree that industry needs to take responsibility for creating a climate that incentivises food crime and unless the whole commercial culture is changed within the food industry then we will be no nearer the 'consumers first' world that Professor Elliott and millions of UK citizens want to see."
Notes for Editors:
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the TSI press office on 0845 608 9575 or email@example.com. The interim report can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/policy-advisory-groups/review-into-the-integrity-and-assurance-of-food-supply-networks
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities. TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.gov.uk