6 handy tips to reduce food fraud

As we highlighted in our blog Food fraud: let’s work together to reduce the risk, food fraud remains an important concern for the industry, with recent FSA and CIEH guidance suggesting a shocking 97% of fraudulent activity in the food sector is going undetected.

Below are some Handy Tips to help you reduce food fraud risks in your business:

1. Communicate the dangers of food fraud to your staff

The above statistic and the number of incidents of food and drink fraud, substitution and misrepresentation shows that the risk to businesses are real and current. By increasing your own and your staff’s awareness about the issue you can ensure staff are vigilant and know what to look out for. This might highlight the need for some training or a need to identify sources of information on scams and concerns in the sector. Sources could include your food Trade Body, the FSA, or your local authority food team.

2. Remain vigilant and check goods

The FSA’s National Food Crime Unit stresses the need for continued vigilance by businesses. Check supplies to make sure that you are getting the quality and type of food or drink you are paying for. Check goods received are in line with any quality specifications you have i.e. not substituted with a cheaper product; the right weight/volume; sufficient shelf life, packaging is intact and labelling clear and distinct.

3. Know your suppliers

Make sure you know and vet your suppliers. Ideally visit them or check they are legitimate in some other way – have they some kind of 3rd party supplier certification, are they Registered or Approved by the local authority? Buying cheap goods from unknown suppliers will massively increase your vulnerability to food fraud. Remember, it is not uncommon for fictitious food companies to be set up and receive goods on credit, or take money and disappear without providing the correct or sometimes any products.

4. Develop an anti-fraud culture

Set high standards and have clear parameters of what is acceptable and unacceptable in your business. All suppliers and staff should be aware you have a zero tolerance policy on food fraud or misrepresentation and that staff are knowledgeable, encouraged and confident in how to report any concerns or suspicions they might have in this area. This can be a deterrent to food fraud and potential opportunistic malpractice – don’t be seen as a soft touch.

5. Report concerns or suspicions about food crime

This is one of the best ways to tackle food crime and for the industry to protect itself. The FSA’s National Food Crime Unit has just launched a Food Crime Confidential phone and email reporting facility. The Unit wants to know where businesses or staff have suffered from or have any suspicions about food and drink adulteration or substitution, and to hear about any companies or businesses selling food purporting to be of a certain quality, or with claims which do not seem genuine or are suspected as fake. Call 0207 276 8787 or email foodcrime@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk.

6. Routinely check food and drink purchases

Routinely check supplies to make sure they meet any quality or authenticity specification you have in the contract. If goods are being sold at a premium because of quality or other claims e.g. meat content, allergen free, free range ask your supplier for information to support the claim or to demonstrate they are meeting your specification. Occasional sampling or testing is an option, especially if you have concerns, but ongoing confidence can be obtained by using legitimate suppliers who have their own quality controls and asking them to provide you with the relevant information.

By following practical steps such as these, you can not only reduce your risks from food fraud but also help protect the food industry. Taking action and having reasonable checks also means you are in a much better place with the authorities if a problem did occur.

Look out for more Handy Tips from the team on other current issues coming soon.

Would you like further advice or support to reduce your risks from food fraud or other food safety issues? Shield Safety Group employ the largest team of Environmental Health Practitioners in the country and are ready to help. Contact us on 0203 740 3744 or visit our website.

The information contained in this blog article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official Food Safety, Fire Safety and Health & Safety advice. Shield Safety take no responsibility if the information in the blog article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Shield Safety services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email hello@shieldsafety.co.uk.

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