The ‘Food Crime Risk Profiling Tool’ was developed by Food Standards Scotland (FSS) in order to help food and drink businesses assess their vulnerabilities.
Businesses can use the online tool to measure their operations against a series of statements before receiving a tailored report which highlights areas of strength and points for improvement.
The assessment process poses questions about firms' internal processes, such as supply methods and systems for sourcing new materials. Participating businesses will be graded across four key areas: strategy, performance, organisation and culture.
Tackling food crime
Ron McNaughton, head of the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit at FSS, said that businesses involved in criminal food supply chains are liable to serious fraud charges.
“[Food fraud] could include adulteration, substitution or misrepresentation of origin amongst other criminal techniques,” McNaughton added.
“So we’ve decided to work with key stakeholders from the food industry and experts who have an interest in tackling fraud in food supply chains to develop an online, food crime risk profiling tool. Prevention is the key to winning the battle against food crime. We felt it was important to support the food industry through crime prevention in order to protect businesses and, ultimately, consumers.”
Following the launch of the tool, FSS is holding online workshops which offer further support for businesses. Firms that take advantage of the tool will receive an invitation to one of the workshops.
Every part of food industry at risk
Chris Elliott, who led the UK’s independent review in the aftermath of the 2013 horse meat scandal, warned that businesses need to be wary of opportunities that appear unrealistic.
The professor of food safety and microbiology at Queen's University Belfast and founder of the university's Institute for Global Food Security, said that food crime is worth up to $50bn each year.
“In terms of which sectors are most at risk [from crime], unfortunately the answer is every sector,” he added.
“From primary agriculture through to retail and food service people will try to penetrate your business and cheat you.”
In other news, a study by Nomad Foods has found that raising freezer temperatures by up to 9C does not impact food safety.