UK food agency launches fraud hotline

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) of the UK has launched a new hotline for people to report suspected cases of food fraud.

The confidential freephone number (0800 028 1180) will be manned 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, and is part of a drive to strengthen the collective response to food crime in the UK which includes collaborating with industry to encourage whistleblowing.

In a statement, the FSA said the number is intended to “make it easier for people to speak up and share their concerns” about food crime, which is estimated to cost consumers, businesses and government between £410m and £1.96bn ($500m to $2.4bn) per year.

Other elements of the drive include strengthening information-sharing arrangements between the third-party auditors used by food businesses and the FSA, to help prevent criminal activity, and improving how the agency issues intelligence-based alerts to warn food businesses about potential food fraud in supply chains.

The FSA has also published a new report, entitled What works to prevent food fraud to highlight ways to strengthen lines of defence against fraudsters, developed in partnership with industry via the Food Fraud Working Group.

“The Food Fraud Working Group agreed that strong and clear whistleblowing arrangements are an important part of the protections against food fraud,” said FSA chief executive Emily Miles (pictured above).

“With different telephone numbers being run by industry and government, it’s not always clear where whistleblowers should report their concerns,” she added.

“The UK has some of the safest and most authentic food in the world, but there will always be a threat of criminality in the food system. Food businesses are the first and most important line of defence and we want to support them.”

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