Food supply chains — new year’s resolutions

By Jessica Burt

Last year was the ‘annus horribilis’ for food, with the horsemeat contamination wiping millions off turnover and stock prices. I contributed to Prof Chris Elliott’s review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks. His interim report has just been published.

While praising the work the UK food industry does in delivering ‘perhaps the safest food in the world’, the underlying theme of Elliott’s review and recommendations is that significant changes are needed to deal with the threats of fraudulent activity that exist along complex supply chains and the culture that underlies how food fraud is perceived and received.

As far as industry is concerned, it is a timely report and should act as a due-diligence wake-up call, even for those unaffected by recent food crimes. A due-diligence defence is only available where a company can establish that it has taken all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid committing an offence. What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the facts in each case, the knowledge implied or otherwise of the company as well as its size and resources…

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