Defra and its Expert Food Authenticity Committees

The Department for Environment, Food, Rural Affairs (Defra) is the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting our world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Defra’s broad remit means it plays a major role in people's day-to-day life, from the food we eat, and the air we breathe, to the water we drink.

The Food Authenticity Steering Group (ASG) aims to identify emerging issues in food authenticity and gaps in science and testing methodology that will help to protect consumers by addressing food fraud and misleading food labelling activity. The ASG sets priorities for the Government’s food authenticity programme based on horizon scanning, market intelligence and assessment of the science capability and evidence base.

The Authenticity Methods Working Group (AMWG) provides a challenge function to ensure that the food authenticity research is based on sound science and that the methodology being developed is robust, practical, and defensible in terms of its scientific principles. It advises on the transfer of new methodology to testing laboratories and on generic analytical issues of methodology such as quantitation, limits of detection, etc. It also considers emerging technologies and innovation in science and technology; and how these can be used analytically to address evolving technical requirements to support food authenticity testing, and new regulatory requirements such as the European ‘Food Information to Consumers’ Regulation.

In June 2013 AMWG set up a Technical Sub Group (TSG) to undertake detailed review of new technical developments in analytical science and to consider how these might be used to solve particular (existing or emerging) problems in food authentication. This group was instrumental in developing the science to resolve issues around achieving fit for purpose quantitative meat speciation in processed meat products. The TSG also reviews and analytically quality assures food authenticity research specifications before these are put to tender. This approach provides a clear mechanism for ensuring that methods are fit for purpose and is in line with the recommendations on assay fitness for purpose as set out in the Elliott Review.

Read more at:

Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is an independent Government department working across England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect public health and consumers' wider interests in food. 

The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) is a dedicated law enforcement function of the FSA. The unit provides leadership on food crime across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The unit works closely with the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit within Food Standards Scotland.

The NFCU was established in 2015 following a review of the 2013 horse meat incident. The NFCU is tasked with protecting consumers and the food industry from food crime within food supply chains.

The Unit defines food crime as serious fraud and related criminality in food supply chains. This definition also includes activity impacting on drink and animal feed. The NFCU response is determined by assessing the gravity of the fraud. This will include considerations of the degree of planning and co-ordination in committing it, the impact of the fraud across geographical regions and boundaries, and the financial loss and other harm to the public and industry.

Examples of food crime include the use of stolen food in the supply chain, unlawful slaughter, diversion of unsafe food, adulteration, substitution or misrepresentation of food, and document fraud.

The strategic objectives of the NFCU are to:

  • Prevent food being rendered unsafe or inauthentic through dishonesty
  • Disrupt offending and bring offenders to justice
  • Build global and domestic counter food crime capability

The NFCU plays an important role in multi-sector engagement at national and international levels. It works closely with the food industry to ensure that businesses are well-informed and prepared to counter food crime. The Unit aims to create a hostile environment for those engaging in food crime by investigating suspected offenders or otherwise supporting partners in their lawful efforts to similarly disrupt those criminals.

The development and analysis of intelligence and information from a range of sources enables the Unit to prepare detailed strategic assessments that will identify threats, risks and vulnerabilities.

The unit works with industry to raise their awareness and test their response systems to food crime increasing resilience for the benefit of the food business and the public.

Further information and NFCU guidance documents are available at

Food Standards Scotland (FSS)

Food Standards Scotland (FSS) is the public sector food body for Scotland. FSS was established by the Food (Scotland) Act 2015 as a non-ministerial office, part of the Scottish Administration, alongside, but separate from, the Scottish Government.  FSS’s primary concern is protection of Scottish consumers – making sure that food is safe to eat, ensuring consumers know what they are eating and improving nutrition. FSS is responsible for ensuring that information and advice on food safety and standards, nutrition and labelling in Scotland is independent, consistent, evidence-based and consumer-focused.


LGC is the coordinator of the Virtual Food Authenticity Network.

LGC is an international life sciences measurement and testing company, building leading positions in sustainably growing markets. LGC's offering is underpinned by its  heritage and expertise in regulation, accreditation and standard setting. LGC provide reference materials, genomics solutions and analytical testing products and services, based on its innovations and own intellectual property.

LGC works with customers in the pharmaceuticals, agricultural biotechnology, food, environment, government, academic, security and sports sectors to achieve excellence in investigative, diagnostic and measurement science.

Read more at:

LGC is also an UK Food Authenticity Centre of Expertise.

Government Chemist Function and its Annual Reviews

LGC is the home to the UK Government Chemist (GC).

The GC provides expert opinion, based on independent measurement to help avoid or resolve disputes pertaining predominantly to food and agriculture, and advice to Government, devolved administrations and the wider community dependent on analytical science. As such, the LGC must be at the forefront of analytical science and expert in analytical methods and their application to a wide range of areas including food authenticity. As the GC is, by law, the analytical arbiter, independence and impartiality are essential in the execution of this function. LGC has been fulfilling this important statutory function for over one hundred years.

Annual reviews of the work of the GC are published and the latest review can be found here.

Food fraud / authenticity is a common feature of GC referee casework.


EU Food Integrity Project

The integrity of European foods is under constant threat from fraudulently labelled imitations that try to exploit that added value. The FoodIntegrity project (European Union funded) will directly address this issue and will be an international focal point for harmonisation and exploitation of research and technology for insuring the integrity of European food. Comprising an inner core of project participants from industry, academia, research institutes, technology providers and a global network of stakeholders, FoodIntegrity will rationalise and harmonise capability to provide a coherent structure and process for assuring the food supply.

 Improved verification procedures will be developed for food control and industry stakeholders using 3 key commodities as exemplars: olive oil, spirit drinks & seafood. In addition a consumer study in China will assess their consumer attitudes in the face of substantial counterfeiting of European food.

Finally it will establish expert food authenticity platforms that will supply independent expert opinion on food authenticity/food fraud to the European Commission, Codex and other national/international bodies.

 Read further information at:

EC Food Fraud Network

In accordance with Regulation (EU) 2017/625 EU Member States must cooperate with one another to ensure enforcement of food law across borders.

The horsemeat scandal showed that one of the weaknesses of the current system of enforcement along the food chain was the difficulty for Member States’ competent authorities to communicate efficiently with their counterparts in other Member States for the purposes of ensuring enforcement in cases of violations having cross-border impact.
The Commission decided therefore to activate a dedicated network of administrative assistance liaison bodies that would handle specific requests for cross-border cooperation in cases of “food fraud”. The dedicated liaison bodies are referred to as “Food Fraud Contact Points” (FFCP). They act, as all administrative assistance liaison bodies, within the legal framework provided in Title IV of Regulation (EC) No 882/2004. The group of FFCPs is collectively referred to as the “Food Fraud Network” or FFN.

By engaging in their Administrative Assistance and Cooperation duties, the FFCP and the FFN help to improve the capability of competent authorities to:

  • detect and prevent violations of food chain rules, also across borders and in potential cases of “food fraud”;
  • collect the information which is needed (in accordance with applicable national rules) to further refer a case to investigation/ prosecution.

Read further information at:


Association of Public Analysts

The Association of Public Analysts (APA) is an independent, professional association whose members are appointed Public Analysts. Public Analysts are the highly skilled scientists who form the primary scientific base of the United Kingdom’s public protection enforcement service where chemical analysis and related testing are appropriate. In Scotland Public Analysts are also responsible for microbiological examination of food.

For further information on the work of the APA see:


Royal Society of Chemistry

The Food Authenticity Network will be supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences.

With more than 51,000 members and an international publishing and knowledge business, the RSC is the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists, supporting and representing its members and bringing together chemical scientists from all over the world.
A not-for-profit organisation with a heritage that spans 170 years, RSC has an ambitious international vision for the future. Around the world, it invests in educating future generations of scientists. RSC raise and maintain standards. It partners with industry and academia, promoting collaboration and innovation. RSC also advises governments on policy and promote the talent, information and ideas that lead to great advances in science.
In a complex and changing world, chemistry and the chemical sciences are essential. They are vital in our everyday lives and will be vital in helping the world respond to some of its biggest challenges.

RSC is committed to promoting, supporting and celebrating inclusion and diversity. It understands that the success of our community depends on our ability to nurture the talent of the best people regardless of who they are or their background.

It’s working to shape the future of the chemical sciences – for the benefit of science and humanity.

For further information read:

Global Food Traceability Center

Launched in 2013, the Global Food Traceability Center (GFTC) is a collaborative partnership including public and private stakeholders, created to address the challenges and opportunities of global food traceability implementation.

The Vision

To become the global resource and authoritative voice on food  traceability.

Supported by its Founding Sponsors, the GFTC serves all  aspects of the food system by generating knowledge that addresses research  gaps, and delivering applied research, objective advice, and practical  expertise about global food product traceability and data collaboration for  private benefit and public good.

The Mission

To serve all  aspects of the global food system by generating knowledge that addresses  informational gaps while delivering applied research, objective advice,  and practical expertise about food product traceability and data  collaboration for private benefit and public good. 

For further information visit:

The Insitute of Food Science and Technology (IFST)

IFST is the leading membership body for food professionals in Europe. A key focus of ours is to ensure the safety of food through providing support and resources to our members who are involved in food production, distribution, and preparation. 

Food professionals responsible for the delivery of safe food need to be highly experienced and knowledgeable in their roles as well as fully up-to-date with the latest developments and current threats. 

Within our food safety site we offer a wide range of resources to ensure that food safety professionals, involved in all parts of the food supply chain, are kept up-to-date with the most current food safety and fraud issues.

For further information, visit the IFST website.

The Food Fraud Group (@foodfraudUK)

The Food Fraud Group (@foodfraudUK) at University of Portsmouth. Tackling the growing problem of by research and training provision.

The Food Fraud Group, established in 2014, brings the unique skill set of the University of Portsmouth to the growing global problem of food fraud.  This covers a wide range of economically motivated frauds, ranging from false labelling to substitution or adulteration of foods. In some cases, food counterfeiting has fatal consequences. 

Organised crime and a lack of evidence of the extent of food fraud are part of the problem (The Observer 3 May 2014). The potential of forensic audit and counter fraud techniques to detect and prevent food fraud is being recognised but the food industry recognises that it must acquire ‘a new skill set’ to use them.

At Portsmouth, we have leading research and teaching in the areas of counter fraud, forensic accounting and audit, forensic investigation, systems analysis and digital forensics.  In the group, we bring together this expertise to tackle the issues of evidence, fraud intelligence and skills.

Food fraud courses

We have launched two courses for the food industry.  These are:

Michigan State University’s Food Fraud Initiative

Our mission is to leverage Michigan State University’s broad leadership position to protect the global and domestic food supply from Food Fraud vulnerability. We are a collaboration point for a wide range of stakeholders including industry, domestic and international agencies, associations, and other academics. Aligned with the Land Grant mission of MSU, we apply research, education, and outreach from theory to practical application with those stakeholders. The research forms the base for the development of new educational programs, which is applied to evolving outreach engagements. Feedback from those outreach engagements provides insight and direction for our research.

Our education programs dovetail with our outreach engagements. We have expanded from our graduate course in Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection and the Graduate Certificate in Food Fraud Prevention to provide a free and more accessible open, online course – the May 6–24, 2013 Food Fraud Overview MOOC.

What’s a MOOC?

A MOOC is a massive open online course, a hot new development in open learning. MOOCs invite large-scale participation and are free to anyone in the world via the web. The aim of universities offering these courses is to expand their reach beyond just the classroom to potentially millions of new students.

The Food Fraud Overview MOOC is provided by MSU free to all interested parties across the supply chain and across the globe. The Overview MOOC is a two-session, 2-hour webinar accompanied by assessment quizzes. Students who successfully complete the assessments will receive an MSU Food Fraud Overview MOOC Credential.

As more people become aware of the concept and the vulnerabilities of Food Fraud, they will also become more effective at not only intervention and response but also at prevention – the more participants in the MOOC, the safer our global food supply chain can be. The MOOC doesn’t just define the problem, it also focuses on prevention. This MOOC is positioned as a bridge between general webinars and more intensive programs such as the graduate course, graduate certificate, or even a Food Fraud focus in a Master’s degree. Please click here to Register Now.

Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative (SSCI)

From harvest to retailer shelf

The supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative (SSCI) is an industry-driven initiative led by retailers to provide a harmonized benchmark to recognize various safety standards throughout the entire dietary supplement supply chain.

SSCI is a bold step forward in providing quality assurance from harvest to retailer shelf.  Dietary supplements must meet or exceed the SSCI benchmark to be accepted in major retailers, all with the goal of providing quality products and increasing consumer confidence.

SSCI Vision: Safe and authentic dietary supplements for consumers everywhere.


International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI)

ILSI is a nonprofit, worldwide organization whose mission is to provide science that improves human health and well-being and safeguards the environment.

ILSI Europe is establishing the first all-inclusive solution kit to ensure food authenticity

ILSI Europe has formed a task force that is discussing potential future activities, such as:

  • A review and evaluation of the current methods for testing the authenticity of foods;
  • Determining the environmental and socio-economic drivers of food fraud and the factors that increase the risk of committing food adulteration above the critical threshold;
  • Reviewing and assessing the quality of data related to food fraud in various existing databases and their fitness for prevention, risk management and mitigation purposes.


To date, there is no integrated approach endorsing analytical, regulatory, traceability, (vulnerability) risk assessment and management, defence, and other aspects. Such an approach needs to combine appropriate tools for vulnerability assessment, the use of available intelligence as well as analytical tools to ultimately minimise the risk of food fraud. Only then such integrated procedure can be applicable to the needs of both producers and authorities striving to coordinate efforts towards safe, nutritious and authentic food.

This new task force aims first to assess existing solutions with the goal to develop a guidance document for an integrated, holistic approach to increase the effectiveness of food fraud detection, prevent and minimise health hazards. The purpose is to first develop a guidance document including a solution-kit approach.

For more detailed information, visit ILSI authenticity task force page or contact Ms Nevena Hristozova at


SSAFE is a global non-profit membership organization incorporated in 2006 to help integrate food safety, animal health and plant health across food supply chains to improve public health and wellbeing

SSAFE aims to foster the continuous improvement and global acceptance of internationally recognized food protection systems and standards through public private partnerships. What makes SSAFE unique is its focus on driving collaboration between the public and private sector to enhance the integrity of the food supply chain.

For further information visit:

The SSAFE and PwC Food Fraud Vunerability Assessment Tool can be found here.

The Food Industry Intelligence Network (fiin)

The Food Industry Intelligence Network (fiin) ( was established in 2015 by industry technical leaders, in response to the recommendation of the ‘Elliott report’, for industry to create a ‘safe haven’ to collect, collate, analyse and disseminate information and intelligence to protect the interests of the consumer. fiin enables a collaborative and targeted approach to supply chain assurance.

fiin was established by a group of 21 industry technical leaders, who represent a cross-section of the food industry from retail, to manufacture and food service. Since inception, fiin’s membership has been opened up to the wider industry and it is currently at 45 members, and it continues to grow.

In 2017, the fiin Technical Steering Group (TSG) was established as a group of members who use their cross-category expertise, to drive the network forward.

The Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS)

The Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) ( is one of four Global Research Institutes at Queen's University Belfast, established to address key, international challenges - in this case, the future of the world's food systems.

Food and drink have become a global industry with many positive aspects - access, affordability, variety. Yet that industry is also faced with a number of conundrums:

1. Soon there may not be enough food to feed a growing population

2. The integrity of increasingly complex food supply chains is often compromised

3. Deliberate food fraud is a growing crime

4. Climate change throws up complications for the future of agriculture.

The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP)

The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) represents a broad range of members with a singular focus — protecting the global food supply. Within the association, you will find educators, government officials, microbiologists, food industry executives and quality control professionals who are involved in all aspects of growing, storing, transporting, processing and preparing all types of foods.

Working together, IAFP members, representing more than 50 countries, help the association achieve its mission through networking, educational programs, journals, career opportunities and numerous other resources. This Web site is a resource for members as well as non-members who want to join us in making a difference in the public health of our global community.

Mission Statement

To provide food safety professionals worldwide with a forum to exchange information on protecting the food supply.

For further information, visit the IAFP website.