Ep. 40. Chris Elliott: Food Crime: A Global Challenge
Professor Chris Elliott is the founder of the Institute for Global Food Security and professor of food safety at Queen’s University Belfast. From 2016–2018, he served as pro-vice-chancellor of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences in the University, but stepped down from that post recently to concentrate on his world-leading research.
Chris has published more than 350 peer-reviewed articles, many of them relating to the detection and control of agriculture, food, and environmental related contaminants.His main research interests are in the development of innovative techniques to provide early warning of toxin threats across complex food supply systems. Protecting the integrity of the food supply chain from fraud is also a key research topic. Chris led the independent review of Britain’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal.
Over the years, Chris has developed a high-level network of collaborators across Europe, the U.S., and Asia. He is a visiting professor at the China Agriculture University in Beijing and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a recipient of a Winston Churchill Fellowship, and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Royal Society of Biology, and the Institute of Food Science and Technology.
Chris has received numerous prizes and awards for his work. In 2017, he was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Theophilus Redwood Prize and was also awarded the title of Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
In this episode of Food Safety Matters, we speak to Chris Elliott about:
- The 2013 horsemeat scandal and how he unexpectedly became involved in the investigation
- How a complex food supply chain made it easy for cheating and fraud to occur
- His recommendation to set up a special police force to begin tracking food-related crimes, which eventually became the UK's National Food Crime Unit
- The Food Industry Intelligence Network (FIIN)
- The cutting-edge technology that's known as "food fingerprinting" to detect tampering or adulteration
- The problem with constant auditing for compliance
- The three ground challenges at Queens University
- Genetically modified (GM) foods, and the importance of pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides
- Concerns about the cocktail effect of eating every day GM foods
- Advancements and achievements in the U.S. and Europe vs. in other parts of the world
- Brexit and how it may affect current food safety work
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