Scottish Food Crime Unit launches roadshow to raise awareness of food crime

  • 55% of Scots want to know more about where their food comes from
  • 47% of Scottish consumers are worried the food they buy is not what it states on the packaging

The public and the food and drink industry are being urged to report any suspicions through the free Scottish Food Crime Hotline, which is run by Crimestoppers, on 0800 028 7926.

Defined as any deliberate manipulation, substitution, mislabelling or fraud in relation to food and drink, food fraud costs the UK economy around £1.2bn each year.*

Foods which can be targeted include the substitution of almond powder for peanut powder, illegal shellfish harvesting, rice, honey, alcohol, olive oil, oregano, turmeric as well as the transportation of food in unsafe or unhygienic conditions.

Ron McNaughton, Head of FSS’s Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit said:

“It is vital that our food and drink is safe and is what we expect it to be.

“Food fraud is a silent and almost invisible threat and we are committed to working closely with partners to help people become more vigilant and aware of the risks involved in fraudulent activity.”

A series of roadshows will be held across the country during the last week of March. A team of experts from the Scottish Food Crime Unit will be on hand to provide information on food fraud, answer questions and highlight real-life examples of the most common types of activity.

Mr McNaughton continued: “Food fraud is damaging not only to consumers, but also to honest food businesses. In order to tackle food fraud we all need to work together, and the help of local authorities, industry and enforcement bodies is essential to maintaining the reputation of the Scottish Food and Drink Industry.”

“Our free Scottish Food Crime Hotline is operational 24 hours a day and is completely confidential and anonymous. Information provided is used by FSS and other partner agencies to identify those who are committing food fraud and potentially endangering the public in order to take positive enforcement action.  We’re calling on everyone to be vigilant and to report any suspicions or knowledge they may have which could help bring those involved to justice.”

William Hamilton, Chair of the Scottish Food Enforcement Liaison Committee said: “Environmental Health services within Local Authorities are working hard with Food Standards Scotland to reduce levels of food crime. Our officers have a regular presence on the streets and in food businesses throughout Scotland and are uniquely placed to obtain and submit intelligence on any suspicious activity – and to take enforcement action where appropriate.”

*Source: Food Crime Annual Strategic Assessment – Food Standards Authority/ Food Standards Scotland 2016

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