Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have been awarded £500,000 to investigate global food fraud and help prevent criminal activity within the industry.

The two-year project will investigate vulnerabilities in the food supply chains and evaluate effective ways to improve consumer trust in food and its producers.

The project will be led by professor Chris Elliott, author of a soon to be released independent review into the recent horsemeat scandal.

Queen’s won one of only five grants from the “Understanding the challenges of the food system” call by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), under the Global Food Security programme.

Prof Elliott and Dr Moira Dean, from Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, and colleagues from the university’s law school and Institute for Study of Conflict Transformation, will analyse major vulnerabilities in the food supply chain.

Read also: UK food crime unit urged after horsemeat crisis

They will work in collaboration with Dr John Spink from Michigan State University.

Prof Elliott said: “There are a growing number of reports of fraud and criminal activity in global food supply chains.

“This Queen’s University-led study will play a very important role in ascertaining where the major vulnerabilities are and how best to deal with them. Helping to restore consumer trust is a key objective of our work.”

Meanwhile, Prof Elliott’s long-awaited report into the horsemeat scandal and the UK food chain, which was expected in the spring, is due to be published on 4 September.