Retail body welcomes Elliott’s supply chain observations

The Elliott Review is a valuable contribution to the UK’s review of supply chains, with “useful recommendations” for protecting against food fraud and criminal behavour, the British Retail Consortium has said.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson praised the review for recognising the “fundamentally robust” nature of the UK food supply network, adding, “We absolutely share his focus on consumer confidence; it is at the heart of all retailers’ businesses.”

However, she admitted that the issue of food crime warranted “serious attention”, and welcomed Professor Elliott’s comments on increasing government focus on food fraud. “We certainly don’t see it as a victimless crime and look forward to new proposals to target criminals,” she said.

Dickinson stressed that UK supermarkets were working hard to address the problems identified during the horsemeat scandal.

“Major retailers and the BRC have been addressing many of the issues raised in his report since the horsemeat incident, building on existing controls on safety to deal with issues of fraud. Retailers have reviewed and revised their supply chains, improved the way they audit their suppliers, targeted testing, and worked with the BRC and industry partners to improve the exchange of intelligence,” she said.

“The BRC has reviewed its food certification scheme to account for issues raised in the incident. It already offers unannounced audits, as well as a scheme covering distribution, but will add to these a certified scheme for agents and brokers in the New Year. We look forward to working with Professor Elliott on the implementation of this new scheme and continued delivery of the storage and distribution standard.”

Recognising the importance of intelligence to tackle food fraud, as highlighted in the Elliott Review, Dickinson said the BRC had “consistently pushed the government to improve the flow of information in Europe”.

She said the industry was currently reviewing the best way to ensure the right information could be provided to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) without endangering commercial confidence.

The Elliott review, which was published last week, called for the FSA and Defra to play a bigger role in tackling food crime, and urged industry and government to prioritise the safety and authenticity of food above all other concerns.

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