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15 June 2016

Professor Chris Elliott praises new Guidance on Authenticity of Herbs and Spices

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Open Letter to the British Retail Consortium, Food and Drink Federation and Seasoning and Spice Association

I was aware that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) had organised a workshop for industry to discuss the issues of authenticity of herbs and spices on sale in the UK following reports of fraud perpetrated in North America in 2015. I was delighted that the FSA had taken this leadership role. I was also made aware that the industry had agreed to develop guidelines to help protect themselves and ultimately the consumer from fraud. I thought this a very positive outcome to the workshop.

The 'Guidance on Authenticity of Herbs and Spices' was published this week and I reviewed the document with great interest. My analysis is that a well-described, very coherent nine point plan has been produced that is both extremely robust and practical. While no plan is ever full proof the UK Herbs and Spices industry, if they stick to their own guidelines, will be a substantially better place than ever before in terms of deterring fraud in this very vulnerable sector of the food industry.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of those involved in the development of this guideline for taking a major leadership role in further protecting the UK consumer and good name of the UK food industry. While each food sector is different I believe that a template has been produced that can be used by many different areas of the food industry to provide practical guidance to business to protect the UK from food fraud.

Professor Chris Elliott
Author of the Elliott Review on the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks Pro Vice Chancellor, Queen's University, Belfast.

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