Food Crime Risk Assessment

In 2020, the Food Standards Agency in the UK have published a Strategic Assessment of the risk to the food industry of food crime.

In 2023, the Scottish FSA were looking to update the document and asked for input from Environmental Health professionals.

The first point to note is the recognition that the way the law is set up and the way that people buy food and drink has an ever larger gap between the two. This is particularly  noticeable in food cooked away from the home. For example takeaways and deliveries. The explosion in deliveries of food  has not been captured in changes to the law. The number of people qualified to inspect premises has also been significantly reduced over the years. 

Food Fraud


Food crime does happen outside of the UK and impact on the food imported to the UK. There is more involvement of organised crime in off shore food crime. In the UK, food crime tends to be operated by those already in the food industry.

How are we being affected?

 The main ways that we are being defrauded, as producers and consumers is:

1. the repurposing of materials holding little or no value in the food chain as edible and marketable, for example adding water without declaring it.

2. the sale of passable food, drink or feed as a product with greater volume or more desirable attributes. For example selling eggs as organic when they are not. 

Accreditation cow in field

Proteins (meat and fish) feature highly in the risk factors along with chemicals, such as DNP (2,4-dinitrophenol ), which have been marketed to aid slimming, but can be fatal.

At the end of the EU exit transition period, the increase in inspections for incoming food and drink did not appear to be factored into budgets nor were trained personnel available in  the numbers needed. In my opinion, announcing the free flow of traffic being a priority over inspections of incoming goods was a notice to the criminal that we were open for business. Pages 8 and 9 give a good summary of the types of product which are considered to be high risk.

The first Operation Opson focussed on Europe concluded in 2023. The numbers are staggering but the headline figure of 30  Million euros of food and drink seized is impressive (or depressive) in its size. 

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What can I do to help my business against food crime?

The FSA in England has a comprehensive guidance on this subject , including a self assesment tool.


Get in touch

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