The Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and Food Standards Scotland’s Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) have recently published an assessment of food crime threats to the UK.
The Food Crime Strategic Assessment found that most food crime, broadly speaking, fell into two categories:
- selling something of little or no value to the food chain as edible and marketable,
- selling something as a product with greater volume or more desirable attributes.
In practice, this may have meant that ingredients had been replaced with cheaper and inferior materials, use-by dates had been falsely extended, or unsafe products were deliberately marketed as being fit for human consumption.
The NFCU also recently published their control strategy for 2020-2021 outlining their priorities, and the actions being taking to prevent food crime, deter and disrupt food criminals and bring offenders to justice. These areas include:
- combatting the selling of dangerous non-foods sold for human consumption,
- preventing illegal shellfish entering the food chain,
- increasing understanding of the use of online platforms to facilitate food crime.
Darren Davies, Head of the National Food Crime Unit, said:
‘Our assessment demonstrates that while the UK has some of the safest and most authentic food in the world, the threat posed by criminals remains. Vulnerability can exist at any place along the route from farm through to fork, both in the UK or overseas.
‘We are committed to preventing and protecting consumers and legitimate businesses from food fraud and are prepared to lead, co-ordinate or support robust action against those committing these crimes.
‘As we face new challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, we aim to create a hostile environment for those engaging in food crime and will continue to work with partners to ensure that food is safe and what it says it is.’