Complexities in food supply chains were highlighted by the so called ‘horsegate’ crisis in 2013, where beef meat was fraudulently adulterated with horse meat causing widespread recalls and subsequent investigations across both retail and food service markets in the European Union (EU). The beef supply chain is a complex supply chain, with global (EU and Non EU) sourcing strategies in order to secure supply. However, managing these complex supply chains can be difficult and consequentially can expose vulnerabilities similar to that of horsemeat, where horsemeat was found in beef meat within EU supply chains. Six months after the crisis broke, an independent review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks was commissioned by the UK government and undertaken by Professor Chris Elliott of Queen’s University, Belfast. The review recommended eight pillars of food integrity to industry and government: consumers first, zero tolerance, intelligence gathering, laboratory services, audit, government support, leadership and crisis management. This article examines the extent to which these recommendations have been implemented using personal communications from Professor Chris Elliott and relevant industry bodies. Following the review, industry attitudes have changed substantially, testing and surveillance systems have been integrated into normal industry practice and the government is more prepared for future incidents through the establishment of the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU). Horsegate raised the profile of food fraud and crime in supply chains and despite improvements to date, further collaboration between industry and government is required in order to align fully with the recommendations.


  • Several scandals/scares have shook the food industry, some deliberate and others accidental over the last four decades

  • The review alluded that food fraud becomes food crime when the act of food fraud is no longer a few random acts by so called rogues but a series of organised activities by groups.[2]

  • We aim to identify the measures generated and changes instigated by industry and government in the UK to fulfil the recommendations set out by the Elliott Review to address food fraud issues highlighted by horsegate

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Several scandals/scares have shook the food industry, some deliberate and others accidental over the last four decades. The steps involved at processing and importing/exporting stages, as well as the reliance on storage facilities and the number of actions that can occur directly or via a trader or agent illustrate the particular intricate nature of the beef chain. With beef production susceptible to seasonal changes, poor weather, disease outbreaks, crop failures and feed shortages, the importance of diverse external markets for securing supply should not be underestimated.[7,8] The illustration by the Guardian Newspaper, provides a simplified version of events for the Irish and French companies connections to horsemeat, (available at: http://www.theguardian.com/uk/graphic/2013/feb/ 15/horsemeat-scandal-food-safety1) exemplifying the complex nature of their beef supply chains and the multiple entities which can be involved in trading meat. To meet the requirements of UK consumers, e.g., preferences for certain cuts, Pillar one—consumer first


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