UK seeing spike in food crime reports, according to NFCU data

There were 1,193 reports of food crime in the UK in 2018 – the highest level since the horsemeat scandal in 2013 – according to the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

The CIPS bases its report on data provided by the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) under a freedom of information request, which reveals that there have been 7,000 reports of food crime between the start of 2013 and March 31, 2019.

The data from the first three months of 2019 – with 364 reports to the NFCU – suggests this could be another big year. Around a third of reports filed last year were for food “not suitable for human consumption”, with other cases involving adulteration, mislabelling, falsified documentation and unlawful slaughter practices.

The FSA has suggested that drawing trends from the data could however be problematic as there has been growing awareness of the work of the NFCU, increasing reporting rates, and in some cases there are multiple reports from the same incident.

Malcolm Harrison, group CEO, CIPS said: “Businesses must ensure that supply chains are transparent and that goods can be tracked from their source. It is important to visit suppliers and introduce regular quality and compliance checks to ensure sound international supply chain practices.”

He continued: “As a society we are not willing to compromise on the quality, origin and ethical sourcing of our food. However, as these figures show, potentially harmful substances are still finding their way into our food supply chains and potentially onto store shelves.”

A study reported this summer found that one in five samples of meat tested by the FSA were found to contain unspecified meat or DNA species not declared on the label.

Meanwhile, a 2018 survey found that nearly three-quarters of consumers think there is an issue with food fraud in the UK, while more than a quarter say they have experienced it first-hand.

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