UK Report Says Supermarkets Should Be Liable For Food Fraud

The government-commissioned study was launched in June to look at any weaknesses in the food supply chain in Britain following the horsemeat scandal.

An interim report from Chris Elliott of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast was released yesterday and it does not paint a flattering image of the food and beverage industry at all.

In the report Elliot says the UK food sector is at risk of being infiltrated by criminals looking for huge profit, and that the 188 billion pound ($310 billion) food and beverage industry is a "soft touch for criminals at the moment." Government officials also have "a worrying lack of knowledge about the extent of criminal activity in the industry" and little chance of offenders being detected.

"I believe criminal networks have begun to see the potential for huge profits and low risks in this area. The food industry and thus consumers are currently vulnerable," Elliott said in his report.

Elliott called for the establishment of a food crime unit to prevent fraud through increased intelligence-gathering, testing, and coordinating with other government departments. He also outlined a series of ways that organized criminals can profit from the food chain due to inadequate enforcement of regulations, included substituting fish with a cheaper species and adulterating products with other species.

Elliott was commissioned by the government in June to look at any weaknesses in the food supply chain in Britain after the discovery in January of horsemeat sold as beef in frozen burgers and lasagnas in British and Irish supermarkets, including those run by market leader Tesco.

Elliott's final report with more detailed recommendations will be published next year. To read more, click HERE.