|The horsemeat-tainted beef scandal of 2013 highlighted the need for transparency in Britain's food supply chain.|
LONDON – The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) announced plans establish a new Food Crime Unit. The new agency is one of many recommendations given to the British government which set out to improve the integrity and security of the country's food chain in the wake of the horsemeat-tainted beef scandal of 2013.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said the government will crack down on "fraudsters trying to con British consumers" so that families can have "absolute confidence" in the food they buy.
As well as keeping up confidence here, we need to protect the great reputation of our food abroad," Truss said. "We’ve been opening up even more export markets, which will grow our economy, provide jobs, and support the government’s long-term economic plan.
"The action we’re taking gives more power to consumers — meaning they’ve got better labeling on food, better education about where their food comes from, and better, locally-sourced food in schools and hospitals."
Additional actions taken by the government include new country of origin labeling to begin in April 2015; and making it easier for food procurers to make decisions about the locality, authenticity and traceability of their food.
Also, the government has introduced a new curriculum to make food and nutrition education compulsory for students ages 5 to 14. Teachers will be required to cover nutrition, diet and where food is sourced.
The recommendations are part of the Elliot report, an independent final report by Prof. Chris Elliott, professor of Food Safety and director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's Univ. in Belfast. Elliott conducted the review of Britain's food supply chain at the request of the Secretaries of State for DEFRA and Health.