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First Assessment of Food Crime Published

March 23, 2016

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the first Food Crime Annual Strategic Assessment examining the scale and nature of the threat to the UK’s food and drink industry.

Research for the document was undertaken by the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and will inform their priorities over the coming year. The assessment highlights themes and trends in food crime intelligence, establishes a baseline understanding of the position in the UK and will be used to prioritise issues which pose the greatest risk of harm.

Andy Morling, Head of the NFCU, admits that while much has been done there are significant gaps in data; “We’ve come a long way in our first year but this assessment makes clear that there is much more to be done,” he said. “For many reasons unique to this form of crime, intelligence about food criminals is in short supply. Whilst we are working hard to gather information, we are calling on those working in the food industry to report suspicions to the NFCU to help fill these gaps. I’m confident that they have a wealth of knowledge and information which will help the unit ensure that UK food supply remains protected.”

Among areas of concern identified are the confusion surrounding horse passports which can be issued by over 60 different issuing organisations and a lack of evidence linking confirmed food related crime and consumer ill health. Whilst the NFCU appreciates the important role played by enforcement, they suggest that strengthening systems and taking a more preventive approach is likely to be more cost effective. In 2013, the loss to the UK economy from all types of fraud was estimated to be £52 billion.

You can download a full copy of the assessment HERE.