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Food Authenticity - Jim Langridge

Jim Langridge, who spoke at the Ullswater Breakfast Talk in 2017, is a director of health sciences at Waters Corporation. Since 1958 Waters Corporation has been in the business of making innovative analytical instruments that assist scientists in reaching their scientific goals, increase productivity, and earn laboratory-based organizations a higher return on their investments in research, development, and quality control

What is a fair price for food?  How can we provide a safe and sustainable food chain with more quality local produce?

The food industry in Cumbria is worth over £250M and is a mainstay of the economy, with the production of milk and red meat particularly important. Over the last 20 years a great deal has been done to ensure that food is safe to eat and is free from chemical and microbiological contamination. The UK has one of the safest food supply systems in the world, and all those involved in supplying food and for developing and enforcing legislation should be commended for what has been achieved.

However, much less attention has been focused on food authenticity, food fraud and food crime. The “horsegate” scandal of 2013 is a clear recent example that directly affected producers and consumers, affecting the integrity of food in the UK.

Despite technology being available to detect the presence of horse meat, and it being present in the food chain for some months in processed meat products tests were not performed. Why was this? Was it due to a lack of funding and coordination among laboratory services, or was it a more systematic failing of the legislation and food-testing network?

A key question posed at the end of this crisis was how and why did it happen? Clearly the root cause was fraudulent and criminal activity, but how did it become widespread and why did it go undetected for so long?

Using this as the basis for discussion attendees at the Ullswater Breakfast Talk  debated how important food safety is to us as a community and how legislation and technology can ensure the quality of food & protect those in our society most venerable to food crime.

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