Food Crime

The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) includes the investigations and intelligence gathering arms of Food Standards Scotland (FSS).

The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) includes the investigations and intelligence gathering arms of Food Standards Scotland (FSS) who focus on tackling food crime and maintaining consumer protection.

Their remit in relation to food, drink and animal feed, is to prevent, investigate and disrupt:

  • Serious and/or complex fraudulent conduct
  • Serious and/or regulatory non-compliance involving dishonesty

in relation to the Scottish food and drink industry.

Conduct is considered serious in this context where it is likely to result in:

  • Significant risks to public safety
  • Substantial gain to the offender or loss to consumers
  • Pan-regional or transnational offending, or
  • Significant public concern.

The Unit has a dedicated Intelligence Office which analyses, develops and actions information received from members of the public, food business operators and industry whistle-blowers.

The Investigations team investigate instances of food crime. They may also support Local Authorities with enquiries into serious breaches of food safety and assist with complex and protracted investigations.

Investigatory Powers Act 2016 (IPA)

The IPA has invested powers to Food Standards Scotland to acquire communications data, in respect of its criminal investigations.

As part of this process, FSS has entered into a collaboration agreement with the National Anti-Fraud Network (NAFN).

What is Food Crime?

Food crime is a risk to public health and to the global reputation and economy of the Scottish food and drink industry. The term food crime covers a range of different fraudulent actions:

  • Food Fraud - swapping or adding cheaper, lower quality or dangerous ingredients.
  • Document Fraud - fraudulently using the identity of a genuine food business or using falsified documents to assure the quality of a product.
  • Illicit goods – selling a product as something it isn’t, such as counterfeit alcohol e.g. fake vodka or wine.
  • Illegal slaughter – slaughtering farmed and wild animals under conditions which don't meet animal welfare or hygiene standards.
  • Mislabelling - deliberately falsifying information on food labels, for example, saying it's Scottish produce, free range or organic when it's not.
  • Unfit food - allowing food to be sold that could be a risk to consumers; from putting animal by-products back into the food chain, to changing use-by-dates.

More on this topic

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Report Food Crime Toolkit

How to support our campaign

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Report Food Crime - Leaflet

Help us prevent food crime.

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Food incidents

A food incident occurs when there are concerns about threats to the safety or quality of food and/or feed.

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Food Crime and Investigation

Food crime can involve selling food or drink that has been tampered with, or using cheaper ingredients than the ones listed on the label.

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