The Scottish Food Crime Hotline will give members of the food industry and the public a dedicated telephone line to report anonymously any suspicions of food crime.
The hotline follows the launch of the whistleblowing facility by the Food Standards Agency National Food Crime Unit in June.
There will also be an option to report concerns via a non-traceable online form.
The initiative will allow FSS’s Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) to gather intelligence to target those involved in criminal activities, which cost the UK food and drink industry an estimated £1.17bn annually.
The launch of the free hotline and online form was established in response to the 2013 report following the horsemeat scandal.
The SFCIU was launched in October 2015 with a remit of improving Scotland’s capability and capacity to combat food crime through improved intelligence, investigation resources and partnership working with the police and other enforcement agencies.
Food crime is defined as any deliberate manipulation, substitution, mislabelling or instance of fraud in relation to food.
The FSS said that this was a serious issue for the sector and the new partnership with Crimestoppers would offer people the chance to report any concerns of wrongdoing in relation to food and drink.
Information provided would be used to help FSS and other enforcement agencies identify and, where necessary, prosecute criminals who were defrauding and potentially endangering consumers.
Right to know
Geoff Ogle, chief executive at FSS, said: “Consumers have a right to know that the food they are buying and eating is both safe and authentic. Food crime is damaging for the public and the industry, eroding trust and value.
“The launch of the free Scottish Food Crime Hotline is one of a number of steps FSS is taking to address the problem in Scotland.
“The intelligence we receive will be invaluable in advancing our work with Police Scotland and other agencies to hold to account those who put consumer safety at risk for financial gain.”
Aileen Campbell MSP, minister for public health and sport, said:“This initiative is a practical and powerful way to tackle the problem of food crime. I would encourage both consumers and industry to make use of the hotline or online reporting form to anonymously share any concerns and help us stamp out fraudulent practices.”
The new Scottish hotline number (0800 028 7926) will be operational 24h a day, seven days a week.