The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), in collaboration with industry partners, has published proposals of the Food Fraud Working Group to strengthen the collective response to food crime. FSA also published two research reports, one estimating food crime costs the UK economy up to £2 billion a year, and another which makes recommendations on food crime prevention.
FSA launched the Food Fraud Working Group to explore how the public-private response to food crime can be improved, calling businesses the “first line of defense.” The working group agreed upon the need to:
- Launch a new free phone number for the food fraud hotline to make it easier for people to speak up and share their concerns
- Work with industry on ways to encourage food fraud whistleblowing
- Strengthen information-sharing arrangements between the third-party auditors used by food businesses and FSA to help prevent criminal activity
- Improve how FSA issues intelligence-based alerts to better warn food businesses about potential food fraud in supply chains.
Additionally, FSA’s recently published report “The Cost of Food Crime” has estimated the cost of food fraud to consumers, businesses, and government to be between £410 million and £1.96 billion per year. Another new report by FSA, titled, “What Works to Prevent Food Crime,” highlights ways to complement the UK’s existing food fraud prevention work and strengthen lines of defense against fraudsters. Overall, the report found that addressing the transition from food fraud detection to prevention strategies at the food business operator level should be a priority.