The Telegraph reports that food crime reports are increasing – that they are the highest since the horsemeat scandal from 2013. So, if the situation is anywhere near on a par with the 2013 scandal, why isn’t the media reporting this more widely?
Perhaps the real question should be, is there more food crime? Or are there more reports because of increased awareness of food crime and the dangers to public health it creates?
The National Food Crime Unit
Following recommendations from Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Safety and Founder of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, Belfast, the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) was created.
As part of the Food Standards Authority (FSA), the NFCU’s has the following objectives:
- Prevent food being rendered unsafe or inauthentic through dishonesty
- Disrupt offending and bring offenders to justice
- Build global and domestic counter food crime capability
In its fight against food crime, the NFCU is encouraging members of the public and those working within the food and drinks sector to report their suspicions.
The main types of food crime are:
- Unlawful processing
- Waste diversion
- Document fraud
Rising food crime figures
Whilst the number of reports has increased, it does not automatically mean there are more actual crimes being committed. The work done by the NFCU, the improved communications and ease of reporting incidents may account for the increased report.
Examples unlawful processing and adulteration
In recent times, the biggest story of adulteration is probably the scandal in the summer of 2017 with the contamination of an estimated 700,000 eggs with Fipronil. This was followed in the autumn of 2017 with the alleged breaches at 2 Sisters where food hygiene standards were breached and the commercial life of the meat was extended by mixing older meat with fresher meat and quoting the sell by date of the newer meat.
Processed food is more than likely to contain ingredients that are an animal by-product (ABP). There are some distinct criteria on how ABP is classified depending on the risk the waste poses to the environment and public health.
When you consider the case of the eggs contaminated with Fipronil, a broad-spectrum insecticide, the waste was classified as Category 1 ABP. This classification is due to the potential risk it posed to public health.
Protecting public health
This is where companies like Novus Environmental help. As a registered waste management company, we have a fully auditable path for food waste disposal and the relevant permits and licences to transport, store and process ABP.