The Food Crime Annual Strategic Assessment (FCASA) was carried out by the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) on behalf of the FSA and Food Standards Scotland, and will inform the NFCU’s priorities over the next year.
The NFCU was set up at the end of 2014 on the recommendation of Professor Chris Elliott, following his investigations into the horsemeat crisis of 2013.
Andy Morling, head of the NFCU, said: “This assessment confirms that while the UK continues to have some of the safest and most authentic food in the world, we must remain vigilant to ensure we keep it that way.”
He said the horsemeat crisis cost the UK food industry a huge amount, not just financially but also in terms of reputation. It had also demonstrated why it was vital for the food industry, law enforcement agencies and regulators to work together to combat the threat of food crime.
‘Collaboration is happening’
He added: “That collaboration is happening. In our first year, the NFCU has worked in partnership with local authorities, police forces, other agencies across government, in the UK and abroad, to share intelligence and help take action where a threat has been identified.
“This is the first time we have had a law enforcement capability focused exclusively on food-related crime. Working in partnership in this way ensures other agencies with a role to play in tackling food crime are not working in isolation.”
Morling said the NFCU had achieved a lot in its first year but the assessment showed there was much more to be done.
“For many reasons unique to this form of crime, intelligence about food criminals is in short supply,” said Morling.
“While we are working hard to gather information, we are calling on those working in the food industry to report suspicions to the NFCU to help fill these gaps.
“I’m confident that they have a wealth of knowledge and information, which will help the unit ensure that UK food supply remains protected. I would like to re-assure the public and industry that we will handle all such information with the utmost sensitivity.”
The FCASA will be carried out annually to keep UK consumers and businesses informed of the risks from food crime.
Big Video Debate on food crime at Foodex
Head of the Food Standards Agency’s Food Crime Unit Andy Morling will be taking part in the Food Manufacture Group’s Big Video Debate on food and drink fraud at the Foodex trade event on Monday April 18, between 14.00 and 15.00.
Joining Morling in the panel discussion – Food and drink fraud: protecting your supply chains – will be a range of industry experts. Confirmed speakers include: Professor Tony Hines, director of global regulatory services and crisis management, Leatherhead Food Research and food fraud specialist professor in accounting at Portsmouth University Lisa Jack.
Show-goers will be able to put a question to our expert panel during the debate. Alternatively you can submit a question about food and drink crime in advance by emailing Mike Stones.
Two other Big Video Debates are taking place at the show: one on campylobacter between 1100 and 1200 on Monday April 18 and one on skills on Tuesday April 19 between 1130 to 1230.
Meanwhile, Foodex 2016 – the premier trade event for the food and drink processing, packaging, ingredients and logistics industries – will take place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, between April 18–20.