Food fraud: The everyday foods most at risk

Earlier this week, we published an article surrounding the FSA’s recent Food Crime Annual Strategic Assessment, a report used to highlight the growing problem of food crime in the UK. The document, which can be reviewed in full here, analyses the impact food crime could have on the UK’s food industry, and suggests that food-related criminality often goes unreported due to consumers being unaware that they are victims of food crime.

Among the cases of food criminality the FSA is interested in reducing, food fraud is one of the key areas of focus. Indeed, the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), who carried out the report, was created in the wake of the 2013 horse meat scandal — arguably one of the most prominent cases of food fraud to rock the UK’s food industry in recent years.

The term ‘food fraud’ relates to ingredients within a food product which aren’t supposed to be there — as was the case when horse meat was found in products labelled as containing beef. The FSA believes cases of food fraud are likely to increase, as food manufacturers look for ways to cut costs in an increasingly expensive market. This is bad news for consumers, as cases of food fraud are almost impossible to detect, meaning we could soon see the unscrupulous practice used in everyday foods.

To help consumers and food businesses alike keep abreast of the most common incidents of food fraud, here we look at some of the everyday foods most at risk.

Olive Oil

Olive oil may be considered the healthiest of all major cooking oils, but it’s also the one most at risk from food fraud. To cut costs, olive oil manufacturers have been known to mix premium olive oil with cheaper hazelnut, corn or palm oil. The effect of this is impossible to detect by taste alone, but could have major implications for those with a nut allergy.

Orange Juice

A glass of OJ may be the perfect way to start the day, but studies show it can be full of all kinds of nasties — from illegal fungicides to grapefruit juice, beet sugar and corn syrup. Thanks to all the sugar found in orange juice, the above extras won’t impact upon the taste of the drink, but it’s something to bear in mind before you chug from the carton with reckless abandon.


Here in the UK we consume an average of 70 million cups of coffee a day, making a cup of Joe the second most popular beverage behind the mighty British brew. Sadly coffee is vulnerable to food fraud, and researchers have found all sorts of adulterants in the nation’s second favourite drink — including ground twigs, cereals, starch and even paper.


As the demand for seafood continues to increase, some international suppliers are finding ways to cut costs by labelling tinned fish as different varieties. This has become a major problem for fish imported from overseas, as there’s little way of knowing the exact variety of fish contained within a sealed can. Tinned tuna for instance, is often a completely different variety of a fish called escolar, which some countries have banned, believing it causes food poisoning.

If you’re at all concerned about the impact of food crime on your business, the Shieldyourself team are here to help. Thanks to our comprehensive food safety services, as well as our highly trained staff, we can help you avoid the dangers of food crime and operate within the limits of food safety legislation.

To find out more, visit the homepage or call us on 020 3355 0981.

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, health and safety or fire safety advice. Shieldyourself 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 Shieldyourself services please do call our team on 020 3740 3744 or email

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Mark Flanagan

Blogs, Food Safety

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