The consumer must come first and a zero tolerance attitude are two key recommendations of the UK’s long-awaited report on the horsemeat scandal.

Published today, the Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks, makes eight recommendations. They are: Consumers First; Zero Tolerance; Intelligence Gathering; Laboratory Services; Audit; Government Support; Leadership; Crisis Management.

The report states that the UK Government must ensure that the needs of consumers in relation to food safety and food crime prevention are the top priority.

It also states that where food fraud or food crime is concerned, even minor dishonesty must be discouraged and the response to major dishonesty deliberately punitive.

There needs to be a shared focus by Government and industry on intelligence gathering and sharing, it says, while those involved with audit, inspection and enforcement must have access to resilient, sustainable laboratory services that use standardised, validated approaches.

It also calls on the UK Government for support to ensure the integrity and assurance of food supply networks should be kept specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

There is a need for clear leadership and co-ordination of effective investigations and prosecutions relating to food fraud and food crime; the public interest must be recognised by active enforcement and significant penalties for serious food crimes, the report states.

Mechanisms also need to be in place to deal effectively with any serious food safety and/or food crime incident.