The Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks - Final report

Publication Date: 4th September 2014

Subject: Food safety

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) welcomes the publication of the final report of the Elliott Review and trusts that all partners identified within the report will commit to swift action to jointly take forward all the recommendations, in order to establish a National Food Crime prevention framework.

The CIEH is pleased to note that Professor Elliott is clear that consumer protection must always be the main objective and that a precautionary approach should be taken, considering any food crime incident as a risk to public health, until proven otherwise.

A key theme throughout the report is the need for collaboration and partnerships, if criminals are to be defeated. This means sharing knowledge and skills and developing trust across sectors. Such a collaborative approach to addressing challenges underpins the recent development, by the CIEH, of the Institute of Food Safety, Integrity & Protection. It’s objective is to build professional understanding and encourage innovative problem solving across public and private sectors.
It is clearly recognised that all action should be risk based and in order to achieve this collaborative intelligence development will be essential. This will require partners, in both public and private sectors to step outside their normal comfort zones.

Audits are identified as useful tools although they can have limitations. Proposals for strengthening them i.e. including elements focused on food fraud, for use of findings to inform intelligence look useful and they offer the potential for better business risk profiling.

LA officers carry out a range of regulatory duties, but the extent of these and their focus will vary across the country, based on local prioritisation. They are a key component in tackling food fraud and food crime. The CIEH is very concerned that ongoing budget cuts will compromise the effectiveness of LA officers to tackle food crime.

To date the FSA has proven an effective, independent body in ensuring consumer protection and co-ordinating and supporting local enforcement activities. Given the reduction in resources at a local level it is essential that this support increases and that there is clear leadership in tackling food crime/fraud.

The CIEH believes, as proposed in the report, that there is a clear need for specialist support in tackling food crime and agrees with the recommendation that a Food Crime Unit be established. The creation of the National Environmental Health Board, chaired by Lord Rooker former Chair of the Food Standards Agency whose inaugural meeting is later this month can support coordinated action on the ground.

It is clear that the Review has carefully considered the steps that need to be taken to begin to tackle food crime. From the start the report has stated that the recommendations are based on a systems approach and that effective partnerships and collaboration will be needed to implement them all.

It is good to note that Professor Elliott has considered mechanisms to drive implementation by gaining oversight agreement from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and the Lords Science and Technology Committee.

The CIEH looks forward to contributing to the fight against food crime.

The full analysis of the Elliott review is available to download here.

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