Jim Fitzpatrick – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Jim Fitzpatrick on 2014-06-10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of current tools available to enforcement officers to take swift action in tackling food fraud.

Jane Ellison

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) works with local authority enforcement officers to ensure that food law is applied across the entire food chain. Direction and guidance on the approach that local authority food law regulatory services should take is given in the statutory Food Law Code of Practice (the Code). The FSA regularly assesses the effectiveness of tools available to these enforcement officers through undertaking audit of local authorities’ enforcement services, reviewing the Code and ensuring lessons are learnt from major incidents.

The Code sets out instructions and criteria to which the authorities must have regard and is periodically reviewed to ensure that it reflects current enforcement practices and supports local authorities’ delivery of their official control obligations and that enforcement is consistent, effective and proportionate.

The FSA provides specific tools to support local authorities with investigations relating to potential food fraud. The FSA operates the Food Fraud Database, which utilises specialist intelligence management software to record intelligence reports and identify links, and uses this to assist local investigations. The FSA also provides local authorities with financial support through its Fighting Fund, expert advice through its Food Fraud Advisory Unit and holds dedicated training courses for enforcement officers.

In addition, the FSA is building an enhanced intelligence gathering network to increase the opportunity to capture and act on intelligence which may be indicative of future risks relating to food fraud, as well as producing strategic and tactical assessments to share with relevant enforcement agencies.