A national food crime prevention network with unannounced audits and a zero-tolerance approach will help protect consumers from more incidents like the horsemeat scandal, a government-commissioned report has said.
In the final draft of the long-awaited report, Professor Chris Elliott called for a "robust, effective" Food Crime Unit to protect the industry and consumers from criminal activity.
Consumers must be put first by ensuring that their needs in relation to food safety and food crime prevention are the "top priority", Professor Elliott added.
The final report into the horsemeat scandal has made a number of recommendations to "improve the integrity and assurance of food supply networks".
- Put the consumers first by ensuring that their needs in relation to food safety and food crime prevention are the top priority
- Create a robust, effective Food Crime Unit to protect the food industry and consumers from criminal activity
- Zero tolerance approach to food fraud by improving intelligence gathering
- Introduce unannounced audit checks by the food industry
- Support the development of whistleblowing and reporting of food crime
- Improve lab testing capacity and capability to ensure a standardised approach for food testing
- Encourage the food industry to question the source of their supply chain
ITV News Consumer Editor Chris Choi reports:
Horse meat review just out says retailers buying policies "matter of concern" in industry that maximises profits
Horsemeat scandal review calls for more unannounced food checks and condemns culture of secrecy in the industry
- 15 January 2013 - It emerges horse DNA was found in frozen burgers sold in several British and Irish supermarkets. Tecso, Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Dunnes Stores all remove the offending products.
- 7 February - Findus announce the majority of its Beef Lasagne it had tested contained between 60%-100% horse meat
- 14 February - The French Government announces a French company had its license revoked A La Table de Spanghero license after it was found knowingly selling horse meat labelled as beef. They had sold to another French company, Comigel.
- The horse meat found in Comigel products originated from a Romanian slaughterhouse called Doly Com. They had supplied the meat under contract to a holding company based in Cyprus, Draap Trading Limited.
- The company, which operates in the Netherlands, was found to be owned by a Virgin Islands holding company. Draap spelt backwards is paard, the Dutch word for horse.
- April 2013 - Independent review of the food industry is announced by the Government.
A long-awaited report into the food industry which was launched after last year's horsemeat scandal is due to be published later this morning.
Professor Chris Elliot's report into food fraud is expected to warn that the industry is susceptible to criminal activity.
In an interim report published last December, Elliot urged the creation of a specialist unit to tackle food fraud and protect consumers.
The report was initially due out in the spring, but was pushed back due to the European elections.
The Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned the report after horsemeat was found in a number of food products labelled as beef.
Forty percent of all lamb takeaways are 'contaminated' with other meats, according to a survey by consumer group Which?.
The research - timed to coincide with a similar study from the Food Standards Agency - showed that lamb kebabs were particularly affected, with 67% containing chicken and beef.
The watchdog said that, of 60 takeaway lamb curries and lamb kebabs tested in Birmingham and London, 24 were found to contain other meats, while seven were said to contain no lamb at all.
Which? is calling on the government, local authorities and the FSA to crack down on 'food fraud' in order to restore trust following last year's horsemeat scandal.
The continuing nature of food fraud - where products are deliberately mislabelled - shows there is a need for a "renewed effort" in order to force businesses to act honestly about the produce they sell, according to the food regulator.
Andrew Rhodes, chief operating officer at the Food Standards Agency, said:
Prosecutions have taken place against business owners for mislabelling lamb dishes, but the recurring nature of the problem shows there needs to be a renewed effort to tackle this problem. Clearly the message isn't getting through to some businesses.
The further priority testing we have announced today will focus the efforts of enforcement officers and raise awareness amongst food businesses of the action they face for defrauding consumers."
The food watchdog has announced a crackdown on takeaway restaurants selling lamb dishes to customers, when they are in fact using a different meat, like beef or chicken.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said priority testing would take place across the UK from the beginning of May.
Businesses selling fake lamb dishes could face prosecution if it is found the meat was deliberately mislabelled.
An FSA review of local authority sampling data, from July to December 2013, found that 43 out of 145 samples of lamb takeaway meals contained meat other than lamb.
None of the dishes tested were found to contain horsemeat, the FSA added.
Severnside Provisions Ltd employs 17 people, and supplies meat to South and South West Wales, and the South West of England, from its base in Newport.
Its operations continue in the run up to Christmas.
Managing Director Anthony O'Sullivan said: "We are having people cancelling orders. I want to reassure people - all of our product is 100 per cent assured. That seized turkey has never been wholesaled."
"We do wholesale turkey, but not process it. It was just a licensing issue. The seized turkey was stored in a part of the building not covered by our licence."
"We had a large batch of turkey condemned and taken away. None of this turkey has made it into the food chain."
"We are looking into how it happened and have already taken steps to make sure it does not happen again."