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Expansion of the National Food Crime Unit

Sean Daly of the National Food Crime Unit describes how the NFCU will expand to help tackle food crime in the food sector.

Tackling fraud in the food supply chain (food crime) is a challenge for the whole food and drink industry. From farm to fork, the effects of food crime have the potential to impact everyone in the supply chain including suppliers, manufacturers, retailers and ultimately consumers.

The Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit aims to help protect businesses and consumers from fraudulent supply chains through building relationships with industry, delivering crime prevention initiatives and conducting thorough, proportionate investigations where necessary. This is to support the Food Standard Agency to deliver its overarching strategy that “food is safe and is what it says it is”.

The National Food Crime Unit works to tackle serious fraud and related criminality and is expanding its functions to deliver criminal and financial investigation capabilities. It will lead on a small number of the most serious and complex food crime investigations each year and will have some capacity to support and coordinate investigations led by partners.  In addition to this, the Unit has introduced an Outreach team and a Prevention team.

The Outreach team’s strategic aim is to cultivate, maintain and enhance engagement with industry, other private sector organisations and our law enforcement partners. Continued engagement with the private sector including the Food Industry Intelligence Network, the Global Alliance on Food Crime, and a variety of industry associations will help to enhance information sharing to aid the fight against food crime.  The team is also developing efficient interoperability across the wider law enforcement community within the UK and beyond.

The Prevention team are working to develop a comprehensive understanding of the methodologies, enablers and drivers of food crime in order to identify opportunities to deliver food crime prevention initiatives. Through collaboration with industry and businesses, initiatives will seek to reduce or remove the food industry’s exposure and vulnerability to o­­­ffending the Prevention team will also seek to reduce the threat from potential offenders by diminishing the means, motivation or opportunity to commit food crime.

The National Food Crime Unit has identified seven categories of food crime:

  • Unlawful processing - slaughtering or preparing meat and related products in unapproved premises or using unauthorised techniques.
  • Waste diversion - unlawfully diverting food, drink or feed meant for disposal, back into the supply chain.
  • Adulteration - reducing the quality of food by including a foreign substance, in order to lower costs or fake a higher quality.
  • Substitution - replacing a food or ingredient with another substance that is similar but inferior.
  • Misrepresentation - marketing or labelling a product to wrongly portray its quality, safety, origin or freshness.
  • Theft - dishonestly appropriating food, drink or feed products in order to profit from their use or sale.
  • Document fraud - includes the making, use and possession of false documents with the intent to sell, market or otherwise vouch for a fraudulent or substandard product.

If you would like to know more about the National Food Crime Unit or see how the Outreach or Prevention Teams may be able to help you, please contact;

NFCU.Outreach@food.gov.uk

Speak up about food crime in confidence

Food Crime Confidential is a reporting facility where anyone with suspicions or concerns about food crime can speak up about it safely and in confidence, over the phone or online. This means that your details will not be shared with anyone else.

You can speak up about your concerns by visiting www.food.gov.uk/foodcrime, emailing foodcrime@food.gov.uk, or by calling the Food Crime Confidential helpline on 020 7276 8787.

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