The UK Food Authenticity Programme

Since its inception in 1994, the Government’s  Food Authenticity Programme has focused on the development of enabling methodology for detecting mislabelling and other types of food fraud. The Programme was transferred from MAFF to the FSA at its inception in 2000, and then to Defra in July 2010 during the Machinery of Government changes.

The programme develops fit for purpose methods for use by official control laboratories and other competent laboratories determining the authenticity of foods.  The food authenticity programme has been instrumental in leading the way in developing analytical technologies for use as food forensics tools and facilitating their uptake in to practical use for food law enforcement.

Defra has responsibility for policy on food labelling, composition and standards, which includes the food authenticity research programme, while the FSA is responsible for enforcement of the legislation including routine surveillance, which is devolved to Local Authorities.

The research programme is supported by 2 independent expert groups: the Authenticity Steering Group (ASG) that advises on direction and priorities and the Authenticity Methods Working Group (AMWG) that assesses methods to ensure they are robust and fit for purpose for use by enforcers.  Membership of the two expert groups includes the FSA, representatives from industry trade associations, enforcement community, consumer organisations and the research community and the devolved administrations.  The AMWG is also supported by a Technical Sub Group( TSG) who provide a strategic scientific steer on the research and methods, including the provision of a challenge function to ensure the work of the programme is at all times based on sound science.    

The ASG has oversight of the Virtual Food Authenticity Network project.

The programme is supported by an external programme adviser, Prof Sandy Primrose MBE.

For further information on the Food Authenticity Programme please contact