UK food agency unveils food crime guide

The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a new online tool that food companies can use to assess their vulnerability to criminal activity.

The Food Fraud Resilience Self-Assessment Tool takes the form of a series of questions that according to the FSA can help food companies identify the risk to their business from food crime, and outlines steps that they can take to mitigate this.

The 15-minute tailored questionnaire – designed by the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) – can either be completed anonymously, or companies can share their details to receive advice and support.

A 2019 report from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) based on another freedom of information request found that there were 1,193 reports of food crime in the UK in 2018 – the highest level since the horsemeat scandal in 2013.

Meanwhile, a 2018 survey found that nearly three-quarters of consumers believed there was an ongoing issue with food fraud in the UK, with more than a quarter reporting they had experienced it first-hand.

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“The pandemic has been incredibly challenging for the food industry, but we know the damage the food crime can do both to a business’s reputation and to consumer health,” said Darren Davies, head of the NFCU.

“While the UK has some of the safest and most authentic food in the world, it’s as important as ever for businesses to remain vigilant to the threat posed by criminals,” he added. “Vulnerability can exist at any place along the route from farm through to fork so I would encourage businesses of all size across the industry to make use of this free tool.”

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