27 February 2019
2 Sisters Food Group’s new Group Technical Director Helen Sisson has outlined her vision to protect the integrity of food safety in a post-Brexit world.
Helen, in post at 2 Sisters since January, believes that protection against food fraud is an essential element of any food business vulnerability planning, ensuring full visibility of the supply chains and ultimately protecting the consumer against the risks that food fraud could present.
Helen said: “There are particular vulnerabilities at certain key markers within the food chain that might lead something unethical or just plain wrong.
“And what we have now is that Brexit is threatening to create the exact vulnerabilities that have been linked to food fraud in the past – things like supply uncertainty and the associated price increases that go with that. Currency fluctuations have already pushed up the cost of imported ingredients, and post-Brexit tariffs could have an even bigger impact on prices.
“And with an increase in prices comes temptations by some to cut corners.
“As an industry we have to been acutely aware of these factors and create a robust environment to counter them.”
Helen has already helped in building this tougher framework. Renowned food safety expert Professor Chris Elliott’s report post-horsemeat recommended that industry needed to come together to share intelligence. As a result, Helen was instrumental in establishing the Food Industry Intelligence network (Fiin) of which she is Co-Chair of its governing board.
Fiin allows the industry to submit in an anonymised way all its testing and traceability information on its supply chain authenticity and integrity, which is then consolidated and fed back to members. This allows members companies to have a much broader view of supply chain risks and in doing so helps them to direct and target their own due diligence programmes based on the intelligence it receives through Fiin.
Now with 38 members and still growing, Fiin has been unique in how it has brought the industry together to collaborate and has now extended this collaboration by having intelligence sharing agreements in place with the regulators thus delivering against the goal of working together to tackle food fraud.
Helen added: “It has been a privilege to be part of establishing such a unique network to tackle such an important risk to our industry.”
Helen’s comments come as she prepares to play a leading role at Food Fraud 2019 (on February 28th at the QEII Centre, London). Now in its third year, this conference bring together quality assurance heads from global food manufacturers and processors who need to keep up-to-date on the latest regulations.
She is joined on the Advisory board by Prof Elliott, the professor of food safety and director of the institute for global food security at Queen’s University, Belfast.
Helen added: “This is an excellent event for intelligence sharing and stretching minds on what needs to be done to make our food systems even safer. I’m delighted to be joining the likes of Prof Elliott at what I’m sure will be an excellent and informative forum.”