The Food Standards Agency has commissioned a major ‘data mapping’ project that it hopes will help prevent another Horsegate-style food scandal.
It has asked Professor Tony Hines of Leatherhead Food Research to map out who in the food industry holds statutory data and fragments of information that - when compiled and analysed together - could help predict, prevent and combat future food fraud cases.
Key reports in the wake of the horsemeat scandal, such as those by Professor Chris Elliott and Professor Pat Troop, identified an urgent need for better gathering and sharing of intelligence between the FSA and industry.
The data mapping project would be an important step in that direction, bringing together data and information held by the FSA, industry and trade associations in “an exciting new model of industry collaboration” that would herald a “focused, intelligence-led defence of our food supply chain”, said Hines.
The project was launched at a joint workshop between the FSA, Defra and industry on 5 September, but its existence was only revealed this week in papers published ahead of the FSA’s next board meeting on 21 January. The results are expected by the end of March.
This week, the FSA also published the results of its research on consumer attitudes to trace contamination in meat products and the 1% threshold for DNA tests agreed between the FSA and industry in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
A spokeswoman said the research had shown there was no consensus among consumers on acceptable levels of trace contamination.
The results - and their implications for how testing thresholds should be set in the future - will be discussed at the FSA’s board meeting.