July 2015

LGC appointed as coordinator for UK's new Virtual Food Authenticity Network

LGC is pleased to announce that it has been awarded the role of Coordinator for the new Virtual Food Authenticity Network.  This is a Defra initiative to help bring together those involved in food authenticity testing and ensure better collaboration and data sharing between all those with an interest. Ultimately, it will give consumers greater confidence in the food they buy.  

The network will raise awareness of the tools available to check for mislabelling and food fraud and ensure that the UK has a resilient network of laboratories with fit for purpose testing to check for food authenticity.

The Government committed to setting up a network in response to Recommendation 4 of the Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply[1]  which highlighted the need for standardised testing approaches.

The virtual network will be a one-stop-shop for anyone involved in food authenticity testing but will also be of interest to the food industry, government, academia, enforcers and consumers alike. With all the relevant material together in one place it will be much easier to access and share information on methods and new techniques while also helping facilitate communication and understanding between those working in the area.   

The project will be overseen by Selvarani Elahi, the UK’s Deputy Government Chemist, at LGC, while the day to day practical aspects of coordinating the Network will be done by Dr Mark Woolfe, an experienced leader in food authenticity.

Dr Julian Braybrook, LGC’s Director of Measurement Science and Partnerships said, “We are delighted to have been awarded responsibility for coordinating this network. Government, enforcers, industry and consumers will benefit from connection through one virtual space, sharing information, accredited methods, intelligence and signposts more efficiently.

To ensure independence, the work of the network will be overseen by a management committee, consisting of key stakeholders, which will report to, and be guided by, the Government’s Authenticity Steering Group.

The food authenticity network will also be supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), the world’s leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences.

Clare Viney, Director of Membership and External Affairs at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: “We support many of the recommendations of the Elliott Review as they relate directly to two of the fundamental principles of our Royal Charter, both championing professional standards and serving the public interest. Many in our network of more than 50,000 members will input into the Virtual Food Authenticity Network and the crucial role it will play in protecting us all. We look forward to working with this new group.”

The network website is operational at www.foodauthenticity.uk.

Although the majority of the website will be open access, membership is encouraged, as it is intended that ‘member only’ discussions and information will be added in the future.