Leading UK food policy and industry experts are among the line-up of speakers confirmed at a major national conference being staged in the wake of the horsemeat crisis.
“Assuring the integrity of the food chain” is the first key event to be held in the aftermath of horsemeat being found in meat products labelled as beef.
It has become even more significant in the light of new food revelations such as the mislabelling of fish.
Research shows that consumer confidence in the overall food supply chain – not just meat – has fallen significantly, with more consumers rating traceability as important when it comes to buying food.
The conference will highlight the importance of assuring the integrity of the food supply chain to re-establish consumer confidence in food products in general.
Speaking at the high-profile event will be:
- Lindsay Harris – Deputy Director, Food & Materials Security and Food Standards at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
- John Barnes – Head of the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Local Authority Audit & Liaison Division
- Kerina Cheesman – Food Safety and Groups Manager (Regulatory, Science and Health Division) at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
They will be joined by European experts including Petter Olsen, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fishery And Aquaculture (Nofima), and Hermann Broll from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Germany.
The conference will establish the current UK perspective on the horsemeat fraud before moving on to look at the role of the FSA and local authorities in assuring food safety and integrity. Importantly, it will address key issues around meat speciation and the use of integrated verification measures in supply chain management to assure product integrity.
Professor Rob Edwards, Chief Scientist at Fera, said:
The food sector faces a significant challenge in restoring consumer confidence following the revelations surrounding horsemeat. Science has a significant role to play in helping companies rebuild trust with their customers. The aim of this conference is to bring together industry specialists and scientists to look at what can be done now and what may need to be developed for the future.
LEP board member David Kerfoot said:
The UK food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the country so it’s vital that we learn all we can from the horsemeat episode. Drawing together industry experts and scientists from the UK and wider Europe will facilitate a debate about how best we address food integrity and assure the food supply chain.
The food and drink manufacturing industry is the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with a turnover of £72.8 billion, accounting for 15 per cent of the total manufacturing sector. 440,000 people are employed in food manufacturing in the UK.