Horsemeat scandal boosts food fraud numbers, says FSA

HorsemeatThere has been a spike in the reporting of food counterfeiting incidents in 2013-14, according to the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA).

All told there were 23 incidents in 2013 and 21 in 2014, which is more than three times the number encountered during the period between 2006 and 2012. The contamination scandal involving unlabelled horsemeat in beef products was the main driver for the increase, with meat accounting for two thirds of the incidents in the two-year period.

Prior to early 2013, most incidents of counterfeiting related to alcoholic beverages, according to the FSA's annual incident report, which notes the uptick in meat-related incidents likely stems from the inclusion of undeclared species in meat products in the National Coordinated Risk-based Food and Feed sampling Programme.

The UK was the country of origin for 16 of the 21 counterfeiting cases identified last year, with other EU countries accounting for two cases and the source of the remainder unknown.

Another category of food fraud - the use of unauthorised ingredients - totalled 121 incidents in 2014, with 29 per cent of these related to illegal active ingredients in dietetic food supplements.  Some cases involved banned substances used in body-building supplements and slimming aids, reports the FSA, while others related to excessive levels of various substances in vitamin and nutritional supplements.

Around half of the incidents related to dietetic food supplements concerned products from the USA, according to the agency.

All told, there were 1,645 incidents of food, feed and environmental contamination incidents in the UK last year, with microbiological contamination heading the list and accounting for almost a quarter of all cases.

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