The Food Authenticity Network aims to raise awareness of the range of methods / techniques used to check for mislabelling and food fraud and to ensure that the UK has access to a resilient network of laboratories providing fit for purpose testing to check for food authenticity so consumers can have confidence in the food they buy. Recognising that no one organisation will be equipped with all the necessary expertise in all methods / techniques used in food authenticity testing, the Elliott review proposed the creation of ‘Centres of Excellence’ to cover the different disciplines and techniques involved.
The UK Government’s Authenticity Methods Working Group produced a number of criteria which outlined the type of qualities an organisation offering a particular expertise might be expected to demonstrate to become a ‘Centre of Expertise’ (CoE). There was an expectation that such organisations should be prepared to engage with and offer support to others in their areas of expertise both within the Food Authenticity Network and more widely if required.
In 2015, the Government first invited organisations working in the authenticity field to consider if they had the expertise, capability and experience expected of a CoE and asked interested parties to complete a self-assessment evidence proforma providing evidence of their capabilities and demonstrating how they fulfil the AMWG criteria for CoEs.
Since then the process for applying to become a CoE has been and is open. In addition to this from 2020, there will be an annual call for CoE applications.
15 CoEs are named; the CoE, contact details and a brief summary of their capabilities is given on the CoE page on this website. The self-assessment evidence proforma completed by each CoE and an information poster is also available.
The listing of a CoE on the food authenticity network is not an endorsement by Government of an organisation but an acknowledgment that the organisation has a particular expertise in authenticity testing either for a particular technique/ food commodity or authenticity testing more generally. It is intended as a guide for those looking for information about food authenticity testing capability in the UK. As such, if a CoE is selected to perform a particular service for an organisation or individual, then it is the responsibility of the procurer to ensure that the services requested are fit for their purpose. The ‘Criteria for a ‘Fit For Purpose’ Analytical Laboratory’ identified by the AMWG in its response to the Elliot Review may help in the procurement of analytical services.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland.