Government response to horse meat scandal fails to tackle ‘the root causes’ – CIPS

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
9 September 2014

The government’s response to the Elliott review into the horse meat scandal is “fresh lick of paint over a tired and broken system”, according to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS).

David Noble, group CEO, CIPS, said it was “frustrating that we seem to continually tackle the outcome of a flawed system rather than the root causes”.

The government has accepted the recommendations in professor Chris Elliott’s review published last week, announcing a Food Crime Unit will be established by the end of the year, and it is supporting action to improve supply chain audits.

Noble, reiterating CIPS’ call for a licence to practise for procurement professionals, said: “The government’s response to the Elliott review is a fresh lick of paint over a tired and broken system. The reforms seek only to catch abuse of our supply chains once the damage has been done and there are still no controls in place to ensure supply chain managers are professional, licensed or competent.

“Ensuring that we have the right people with the rights skills to manage and monitor the system is a crucial component of our response to criminality in the supply chain but this has been once again overlooked.”

Maria Eagle, Labour’s shadow secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, said the government “had made no progress” since the horse meat scandal and its policies had “fragmented” the Food Standards Agency.

“The food industry is the largest single manufacturing sector in the UK, millions of jobs depend on consumer confidence,” she said. “The government must now show leadership and establish an effective food crime unit as recommended in the report that can protect the integrity of the food we eat as soon as possible.”

Anne McIntosh, chairwoman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee and Conservative MP, said Elliott’s report echoed the results of inquiries by the committee. 
“In particular, both the committee and professor Elliott raised concerns about the reduced capacity for testing in the UK and stressed the need for more public analysts to undertake such testing. The government must set out how it intends to deliver this.”

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said a survey it had carried out showed 70 per cent of the public were either very concerned or concerned about counterfeit food products being sold on the high street.

Shirley Cramer, CEO at the RSPH, said: “It is clear from this research that the public still have concerns about the scale of food fraud, but that the poorest in society may be disproportionately affected because they have fewer food choices. With many trapped buying cheap, processed food, which is the most likely to be adulterated, the poorest in society are relying on swift implementation of the recommendations within the Elliott review to address concerns and provide reassurance.”

In a statement the Food and Drink Federation said: “Any supply chain, no matter how simple or complex, can present risks that need to be adequately managed. FDF members have robust traceability and assurance systems in place, including risk registers, audits and testing, and as a result UK consumers have access to perhaps the safest food in the world. 

“Professor Elliott's report and recommendations provide a solid platform for government, enforcement bodies and industry to continue to improve mechanisms for sharing information that can help identify and tackle potential food fraud."

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