Defra Owen Paterson

Defra wants written evidence for its review of the UK food system

Defra has launched a call for evidence from the public and the food industry to feed into Professor Chris Elliott’s review of the UK food system.

The review was launched by Defra secretary of state Owen Paterson in response to the horsemeat scandal, but it will also look more generally at how the UK food system operates and how its resilience to fraud can be strengthened.

Defra said it was especially interested to hear views from members of the public and the industry on issues affecting consumer confidence. Key questions in its questionnaire – which comprises 32 questions – include:

  • “What measures need to be taken by the UK food industry and government to increase consumers’ trust in the integrity of the food supply systems?”
  • “How can government, food businesses and regulators better identify new and emerging forms of food fraud?”
  • “Do consumers fully understand the way industry describes the composition and quality of the products on sale?”
  • “Has the consumer developed unrealistic expectations of the food industry and if so, what role is there for the food industry and government in doing something about it?”
  • “What impact could fraud have on the safety of food consumed in the UK?”
  • “How can large corporations relying on complex supply chains improve both information and evidence as to the traceability of food?”
  • “Where multiple ingredients are used in food processing to create a dish, should country of origin information be made available for them all? What do the public care most about?”
  • “Are there shortcomings in the inspection and enforcement tools available to the FSA and local authorities?”
  • “Can substitution or adulteration ever be considered ‘harmless’?”

The questionnaire is available through the Defra website, and answers can be submitted until 7 August.