The FSA’s Food Fraud Working Group set out four proposals in a stakeholder message published today (10 October 2023), which are aimed at supporting food businesses, local authorities and regulators to ensure food is safe and authentic.
This includes the creation of a new freephone number for the food fraud hotline, making it easier for people to share concerns, and a commitment to work with the industry to encourage food fraud whistleblowing.
The working group has also proposed that information sharing arrangements between the third-party auditors used by food businesses and the FSA are strengthened, and that improvements are made to the intelligence-based alerts system that is designed to warn food businesses about potential food fraud in supply chains.
Alongside the proposals laid out in the stakeholder message, the FSA published two research reports into food fraud. One estimates that food crime costs UK consumers, businesses and government up to £2bn every year, while the other highlighted ways to complement existing food fraud prevention measures and strengthen lines of defence against fraudsters.
Easier to share crime concerns
FSA chief executive Emily Miles said that while the UK is home to “some of the safest” food in the world, the threat of criminality needs to be guarded against.
“Food businesses are the first and most important line of defence and we want to support them,” Miles explained.
“This is one of the reasons why we launched a working group to explore together whether some areas of our collective response to food crime can be improved. Together, we’re making it easier to share intelligence and information by helping people who work in the food system to share their concerns with us freely and confidentially.”
Meanwhile, Helen Sisson, director and co-chair of the Food Industry Intelligence Network which has worked alongside the FSA, added: "We are pleased to be taking action with the FSA and our partners in the food industry to strengthen the way we can prevent food crime in our supply chains. Cooperation and communication between every part of the food system is vital to protect the public and the global reputation of UK food."