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University Food Fraud Research Becomes Part of Global Campaign

Research by the University of Manchester into food fraud is one of five successful projects to be awarded grants by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

by University of Manchester
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Image courtesy of the Food Standards AgencyThe research is part of the Global Food Security programme which is aimed at ‘Understanding the Challenges of the Food System.’

The UK food system is part of an increasingly globalised system, which means it can often be prone to periodic scares and crises. UK consumers will be only too aware of the challenges of the food system which they experience through rising food prices as a result of weather disasters, conflicts and wars and will remember only too well scares of recent years about the provenance of meat products.

The FSA and ESRC previously identified an area of mutual interest around the challenges to the UK agri-food system, food safety, food fraud/crime and consumer trust.

The research from The University of Manchester, led by Jon Spencer, is exploring food fraud and the supply network. He said: “The aim of this research is to develop a predictive computational approach to modelling food supply chains so that the points where food fraud can occur are identified.

“Identifying these points of vulnerability to adulteration within the supply chain will allow regulators and retailers to take appropriate action to avoid food fraud. This project will bring together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from analytical sciences, predictive modelling, law, criminology and business studies, and will contribute to consumer confidence and trust in UK food supply chains.”

Professor Paul Boyle, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said: “We’re delighted to come together with the Food Standards Agency to fund innovative research into important areas which underpin UK food security. The projects that are being funded will deal with priorities such as resilience, safety and security, food price volatility and supply chain management - all of which are recognised as yielding important social science research challenges to be addressed for the mutual benefit of the food industry and consumers alike.”

The Food Standards Agency’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Guy Poppy commented “Achieving food security is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century. I am particularly pleased that together with the ESRC, we are funding world class social scientists to develop an evidence base in these important but under-researched areas. The Agency believes this research will offer maximum policy relevance, as well as building strong relationships between researchers. The inception workshop will allow the researchers to discuss common themes relating to fraud, resilient food chains, consumer behaviour and an ageing population and thus allow the five projects to share knowledge and expertise throughout their projects and for the greater good of our understanding of the food system.”