Nearly four years after the UK horse meat scandal, consumer confidence in food supply chains remains shaky. A recent NFU Mutual report found that 72% of people believe there is an issue with food fraud in the UK, with many doubting the reliability of dishes labelled as 'handmade', 'organic' and 'free-from'. Nearly half (42%) felt takeaways were the least trustworthy of all food businesses, while 15% felt the same about restaurants.
Dr Lisa Ackerley, food safety adviser at the BHA, believes hospitality businesses need to be 'proactive' to combat the issue and maintain consumer confidence. She offers her top tips for how restaurants can tackle the issue:
1. Know your food chain – Keeping a short supply chain will make it easier to monitor and manage where your produce comes from. Ask your suppliers what measures they have in place to safeguard their product.
2. Source locally - Sourcing locally not only makes it easier to engage with your supplier but also supports the local community and economy. You can visit their facilities and see first-hand how they manage their food or livestock and verify that they are meeting UK laws and standards.
3. Labelling – Today’s consumers are more discerning than ever about what they eat. Providing information on the menu on where the food was sourced and the nutrition information it allows customers to see exactly what it is in their food and where it came from, which can help to gain their trust and confidence. The BHA's Nutrition Guide, produced with input from eminent nutritionists from across the industry, offers advice and guidance on this subject.
4. Awareness – Inform staff about your strategies to find and stop food fraud. If appropriate, make this visible to customers so they can see that you are serious about combating fraud.
5. Assess your vulnerability –audit of your vulnerabilities. Check your tech, staff, suppliers and stock taking methods.
6. Report it – By reporting any suspicions to the National Food Crime Unit you not only protect yourself but also the reputation of the industry. Making it as hard as possible for crime to prevail ensures we stay a responsible and dependable industry.
7. Consult the professionals – If you are unsure of what regulations you need to be following or best practice when it comes to implementing safeguards consult industry professionals such as government bodies, accreditation schemes or associations.
For more information on NFU Mutual's Food Fraud report click here.