FSA Press Release (2006/0646), 7 April 2006
The Food Standards Agency Board yesterday agreed to set up a new Food Fraud Task Force, which will consider further actions to help tackle the trade in illegal food and protect consumers. The task force will be chaired by Dr Philip Barlow, former Associate Professor of Food Science and Technology at the National University of Singapore.
The task force's remit will be to consider and report on all issues that are likely to significantly impact on food fraud and, in particular, to consider the current controls in place and their suitability to control and deter food fraud. It is intended that the task force will initially focus on the meat sector and lessons learnt will then be expanded more broadly, to the rest of the food industry.
Director of Enforcement at the FSA, David Statham, said:
'Setting up this new task force signals the Agency's commitment and determination that everything that can be done to stamp out food fraud will be taken forward. Its ultimate aim is to improve consumer protection from fraud and unsafe practices. It is clear that some current processes could and should be tightened and this review has been instigated to deliver solutions.
'But it is also important that the food industry takes its responsibility toward fraud and illegal activity seriously. Where food fraud is identified it is key that enforcement authorities work together to stamp out this crime.'
Chair of the task force, Dr Philip Barlow said:
'Food safety is of paramount importance and everyone expects that the food they obtain is of the highest quality, which in most cases it is. However, there are always a few individuals who will, for personal gain, try and pass off suspect food as meeting the required standards. The findings and recommendations of the task force will hopefully give everyone an even greater confidence in the food they consume.'
In the light of the Euro Freeze Ltd investigation, the Agency recognises that there are some additional issues that need to be addressed that were not relevant at the time the initial task force was set up. Some of these issues were discussed by the FSA Board and recommendations were made about the key areas to be addressed by the new task force, as well as representatives to be included in the membership (1). The key issues recommended included:
The task force will first meet in May. In preparing a final report for the FSA Board in October 2007, the Task Force will involve and consult all relevant stakeholders. There will be a series of interim reports to the FSA Board (2) and any necessary actions identified will be fast-tracked prior to the final report.
Additional Notes to Editors
(1) Membership of the Food Fraud Task Force will be drawn from some or all of this list of organisations and will be made up of experts with operational experience:
(2) Proposed Timetable:
The Board Paper on this topic is available on this site: FSA 06/04/04 - Action to tackle food fraud