The Food Authenticity Network has worked with Defra, FSA, FSS, NFCU, SFCIU and the Food Authenticity Centres of Expertise to agree a framework for a co-ordinated response from food authenticity Centres of Expertise to national / international food and feed fraud incidents / investigations.
Official controls of food and feed labelling and compositional standards involves the verification of labelled product information and requires a wide range of analytical and molecular biological techniques to be deployed, many with exacting instrumentation requirements and in-depth scientific interpretation of the datasets generated. In recognition that no single institution could field the complete range of such techniques with the required expertise in all of the food and feed commodity groups, a number of Food Authenticity Centres of Expertise (CoEs) have been acknowledged (see below for list and further information).
It was envisaged that the virtual network of CoEs would function in a similar way to a National Reference Laboratory by helping to ensure that authenticity testing methods employed are fit for purpose and offer expert advice to the food authenticity analytical community as required.
A framework has been produced for collaboration of Food Authenticity Centres of Expertise to facilitate the formulation a collective technical view, in response to a request from UK Government, during an emergency food or feed fraud incident/investigation. A collective technical view will facilitate UK Government in making evidence-based decisions in a timely manner so as to minimise the impact on legitimate businesses and protect consumers.
The Framework is not a public document but the process flow diagram is presented above to illustrate the process agreed. An accessible version is available here.