UFU welcomes Defra response to food supply chain integrity report

Tuesday, 9 September, 2014

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has welcomed Defra’s response to Professor Chris Elliot’s review of the food integrity and assurance of food supply networks and is pleased that Defra has accepted the report’s recommendations, including the establishment of a new Food Crime Unit.

Ulster Farmers’ Union President Ian Marshall said; “During the horsemeat scandal, the actions of a small number of unscrupulous individuals put the reputation of the entire food industry on the line. Farmers were incredibly disappointed and very angry that our supply chain partners had let us down so badly. While it revealed that in some cases food supply chains had become long and convoluted, it also confirmed the importance consumers put on provenance and accurate labelling.

“Defra’s support for a Food Crime Unit within the Food Standards Agency is a positive move, however, it would need to be adequately funded and resourced if it is to make any real difference. A key aspect of this new Food Crime Unit will need to be information and intelligence sharing, especially given that food fraud is not just solely a UK issue but, as demonstrated by the horsemeat scandal, often is an issue that crosses many borders. On the back of Defra’s commitment, we would like to see other countries making similar moves to help ensure food fraud is tackled comprehensively.

“Consumers in Northern Ireland can take comfort in the fact that local farmers are producing food to some of the highest standards in the world. We take great pride in the high quality, safe, and traceable food we produce with the vast majority of Northern Ireland’s primary produce subject to assurance schemes, such as the NI Beef & Lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme and the Red Tractor Farm Quality Assurance Scheme which covers dairy, pork, and poultry. The Union believes the food industry should be building on this good work to ensure that the reputation of Northern Ireland’s agri-food industry is protected.”