FSS and FSA publish assessment of food crime in the UK

06 October 2020

Article: 54/4005

Food Standards Scotland’s (FSS) Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) has published its food crime priorities for 2020 to 2021, alongside a joint UK Food Crime Strategic Assessment with the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) National Food Crime Unit.

The SFCIU has taken an evidence and intelligence-based approach, working with partners and industry to identify key areas of concern which have previously and continue to be targeted by criminals, to the detriment of consumers and responsible businesses. The priorities are:

  • red meat 
  • fish 
  • counterfeit or illicit alcohol 
  • wild shellfish

These areas, assessed as high-risk and vulnerable to food crime in Scotland, are set out in the Control Strategy, which also looks to address issues across the entire supply chain with the aim to identify, understand and tackle food crime, which is hoped will protect consumers, as well as the reputation of the food and drink sector.

These commodities have been assessed as high risk not because they pose a direct safety risk to consumers, nor because those sectors are less vigilant, but because they are particularly attractive to those with criminal intent. Preventative activities, which focus on food and drink, are commonplace across these industries.

The UK-wide Food Crime Strategic Assessment examines areas of the food supply chain which may be vulnerable to food crime, as well as identifying emerging threats which need to be addressed. The assessment found that most food crime relates to two broad activities, these being selling something of little or no value to the food chain as edible and marketable, or selling passable food, drink or feed as a product with greater volume or more desirable attributes.

In practice, this could include replacing ingredients with cheaper and inferior materials, falsely extending use-by dates, or deliberately marketing unsafe products as being fit for human consumption. The SFCIU will continue its work with the FSA, Scottish local authorities, the food and drink industry, Police Scotland and other partners to investigate, detect, disrupt and prevent food crime.

Source: FSS, 29 September 2020