The Defra-initiated network, coordinated by LGC, was recommended by the Elliot review into the "Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks". Its aim is to raise awareness of the tools available to check for mislabelling and food fraud and to ensure that the UK has access to a resilient laboratory network able to provide fit for purpose testing for food authenticity and so enhance consumer confidence in the food they buy.
By setting up the Virtual Food Authenticity Network and publishing the Centres of Expertise, the Government has made significant progress towards addressing Recommendation 4 of the Elliot review, bringing those involved in food authenticity together in a more coordinated way and improving accessibility via a one-stop-shop of information on authenticity testing.
Selvarani Elahi, UK Deputy Government Chemist, comments, “LGC played an important role during the 2013 horse meat issue in providing sound scientific advice and by undertaking research, supported by newly developed reference samples for meat speciation, in a robust and timely manner to answer the challenging questions that emerged. We were able to do this because of our extensive experience in providing fit for purpose measurement solutions across the whole range of food authenticity testing scenarios for an international audience. Thus we are delighted to be acknowledged as a Centre of Expertise.”
14 Centres of Expertise are currently recognised on the Virtual Food Authenticity Network and a process is in place for further organisations to apply to become acknowledged as Centres of Expertise for food authenticity testing.