'The UK is still at risk of another ‘Horsegate’ scandal'

Will horsegate happen again? Picture: iStock Richard Pinder.

An investigator in the UK horsemeat scandal in 2012 claims while progress has been made in the food industry, security has to remain a priority for authorities and the police or it will happen again.

Chris Elliott, professor of Food Safety, and director, Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast, will tell delegates at the Food Fraud, Culture and Modern Catering Processes conference, in September, work still needs to be done to ensure food fraud is successfully tackled.

Elliott Review

He believes the UK is still at risk of another ‘horse gate’ scandal which may have been responsible for up to 50,000 horses disappearing from across Europe. 

A great deal of headway has been made since the publication of the Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks.

"Plus, we’ve seen the establishment of the Food Standard Agency’s Food Crime Unit, which is beginning to have an impact,” he said.

However, food fraud must remain a priority – amongst many competing priorities for enforcement authorities – if we are to maintain that progress and ensure we see no recurrence of previous scandals.”

As well as food fraud, the conference organized by Highfield Qualifications, a UK organization for food safety qualifications in partnership with The Society of Food Hygiene and Technology (SOFHT), will focus on allergens, food safety culture and the safety of low temperature catering processes.

'False sense of security'

According to Sterling Crew, VP, Institute of Food Science and Technology, culture is increasingly cited in reports and papers related to food safety incidents and outbreaks and is also identified as a significant emerging risk factor in food fraud.

"The challenge for food manufactures is to inoculate a food safety culture into their operations so that good practice is second nature and embraced from the boardroom to the shop floor. Only by understanding and changing food handler behavior will we be able to embed food safety in an organizations culture and drive improvement," he said.

"A strong food safety culture will ensure good practice is not only understood but more importantly being followed.

"Real food safety is what happens when managers and supervisors are not present and individuals are left to their own devices. That is when a business culture comes into play.

"Training can give a false sense of security. It is only the first step. It is important food handlers not only know what good practice looks like also but behave in a safe way and do the right thing. A positive food safety culture will encourage this.

"A strong Food safety culture can be turned into a competitive advantage.

"All food business will have a food safety culture even if some do not recognize it."

Food Fraud, Culture and Modern Catering Processes

  • Host Richard Sprenger, chairman, Highfield. Author of Hygiene for Management and The Food Safety Handbook
  • Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Safety, and Director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, Belfast
  • Andy Morling, Head of Food Crime at the Food Standards Agency
  • Sterling Crew, VP, Institute of Food Science and Technology
  • Peter Littleton, Technical Director at Klenzan
  • Simon Flanagan, Senior Consultant - Food Safety and Toxicology, RSSL
  • Dr Andy Bowles, Specialist Food Law Solicitor and Director at ABC Food Law

Click here to book your place at the conference at Doncaster Racecourse on September 26, or email events@highfield.co.uk

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