Food, drink industry 'needs fraud prevention, not just protection'

Audit, tax and advisory firm Crowe Clarke Whitehill has drawn up a step-by-step guide designed to help stop food and drink fraud in its tracks.

The new report comes four years after the so-called horsemeat scandal in Europe, where a number of beef products were found to be contaminated with undeclared meat from horses – and while not a major safety concern, the scandal lowered the reputation of the industry in the eyes of the public.

This has had a knock-on effect of the industry wanting to do more to prevent such scandals in the future, but more still needs to be done.

Last year, the NCFU, Intellectual Property Office, Operation OPSON, University of Portsmouth’s Centre for Counter Fraud Studies, and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, hosted a conference about sharing information and intelligence about fraud affecting the food and drink industry, and much of the discussion here has helped form Crowe Clarke Whitehill’s report.

The firm has created a seven-step good practice guide to counter fraud, which includes gaining a better understanding of the problem; setting up a deliberate counter-fraud strategy; focusing on prevention as well as detection; and creating an investigative process for fraud.

The guidelines come after the conference raised a series of issues, including that food and drink businesses “typically focus more on fraud detection compared to fraud prevention,” and that contracts are often signed without thorough ‘fit and proper’ checks on suppliers’ credentials and backgrounds.

It also found that there was a higher level of reporting on counter fraud actions, rather than outcomes.
Crowe Clarke Whitehill believe its report can help further develop the food and drink industry’s evolution in the face of the horsemeat scandal, and help lower its and the public’s risk to fraud.

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