A potential food fraud incident around pre-packed slice beef labelled falsely as British is currently under investigation.
The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU)’s deputy chief, Andrew Quinn, has confirmed this to be a matter of fraud rather than safety, with the products allegedly coming from South America and Europe rather than Britain as the labels purported.
According to reports, Quinn said the retailer was notified on the same day the unit acted against the food business suspected of fraud. All affected products were then removed from shelves.
Supermarket Booths has confirmed after speculation it was the retailer in question and that it has been working with the NFCU since 2021 and it is not under investigation itself.
In a Tweet the grocers stated: “Booths support for the investigation relates to a limited selection of cooked meat products and Booths have no knowledge of any other aspects of the investigation.”
The supermarket has also said its fresh meat, poultry and game products are not affected by this investigation and that, with the exception of the limited selection of cooked meat products impacted, it is “absolutely confident” in its British only meat commitment.
"Issues of provenance, traceability, honesty and authenticity are of the highest importance to Booths and the business has been fully co-operating with and supporting the work of the NFCU for the past 18 months," a spokesperson told Food Manufacture. "It is important that the NFCU is able to complete its investigations in an objective and impartial manner. The NFCU continue to have the full support of Booths and to that effect, Booths will make no further comment at this stage, any further enquiries relating to this matter should be directed to the NFCU."
This incident follows in the shadow of the 10-year anniversary of the horse-meat scandal, which NFU president Minette Batters referenced in the association’s recent conference where she warned the risks of complacency.
“When it comes to exporting to our neighbours in the EU, our farmers face the full gamut of EU controls while, three years on, we fail to apply the same level of controls on their imports," she said. "It’s not just an issue for competitiveness, but also for our critical biosecurity. Ten years on from the ‘horsegate’ scandal we cannot afford to be so complacent about the risks that continue to exist.”