Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks

In June 2013, following the 'horse meat crisis', the government asked Professor Chris Elliot to conduct a review into the assurance of food supply networks, and to make recommendations.

In January 2013, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) had published a study revealing that horse DNA had been detected in some beef burger products in Ireland, prompting concerns about the traceability of meat ingredients and products entering the food chain. 27 beef burger products were analysed, with 10 of them testing positive for horse DNA and 23 testing positive for pig DNA.

The beef burger products testing positive for horse DNA were produced by one food processing plant in Ireland and one in the UK. Investigation by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found that burger samples containing horse DNA did not contain phenylbutazone, a commonly used medicine in horses that is not allowed in the food chain.

Professor Elliot's review team delivered its final report in July 2014, which concluded that a national food crime prevention framework and a food crime unit should be established. The report advised that any substitution or adulteration in the food chain should be treated as a public health risk until proven otherwise.

The report was clear that stronger arrangements should be put in place to protect consumers and called for retailers to prove they had checked foods properly for adulteration or misrepresentation.

The report also expressed concern that there was still no effective contingency plan in place to deal with the next 'inevitable' scandal. It suggested that effective food testing was at risk due to deep cuts in local authority budgets, with public laboratory services and local authority enforcement arrangements suffering as a result.

Source(s)

Elliot C.
Elliott review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks - final report; a national food crime prevention framework.
HM Government; 2014

Lawrence F.
Horsemeat scandal report calls for urgent and comprehensive reforms.
The Guardian; 2014.

European Commission.
Commission publishes European test results on horse DNA and Phenylbutazone; no food safety issues but tougher penalties to apply in the future to fraudulent labelling.
European Commission; 2013.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
FSAI Survey Finds Horse DNA in Some Beef Burger Products.
FSAI; 2013.