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UK best prepared to tackle global food integrity challenges

The Food Industry Intelligence Network will play a crucial role in defending the agri-food industry against potential food integrity challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chris Elliott, professor of food safety and founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast.

Supply chain impacts of the pandemic

Speaking at fiin’s virtual AGM held in March 2021, Professor Elliott says huge increases in consumer demand for food and drink during the pandemic, could mean more challenges to food authenticity in the coming months. 

“The ongoing turmoil brought by the pandemic will most likely lead to increased challenges to global food authenticity over the coming months,” explains Professor Elliott. “Some countries have really struggled to export due to labour and transportation shortages, and commodity prices on some food ingredients have increased.

“In some cases, audits and inspections have been scaled back to meet demands, making fraud a potentially more attractive proposition.”

Industry proactivity

However, he adds the scale and breadth of data and insight delivered by fiin will play put the UK in the best possible position to protect UK supply chains, and therefore consumers, from these challenges. To date, the network has conducted and pooled over 300,000 authenticity tests for intelligence sharing.

“There isn’t anything else like fiin in any other part of the world, it is remarkable,” he adds. “It’s important that the industry continues to be proactive in tackling food integrity challenges.”  

The 2021 AGM will mark the fifth members meeting since the network’s inception in 2015. Today, fiin consists of 46 members who collectively represent over £180 billion of the UK’s food and drink industry.