Food Crime

Find out more about food crime and how to report it

Report a food crime

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.

Although it is recognised that the UK is an extremely safe food environment, no supply chain is immune to the potential threat that food crime poses.

There are seven food crime techniques, along with the enabling crime of document fraud, which represent food crime.


Crime technique Definition
Theft The dishonest appropriation of food, drink or feed products from their lawful owner with an intention to benefit economically from their subsequent use or sale
Unlawful Processing The slaughter, preparation or processing of products of animal origin outside of the relevant regulatory framework

Waste Diversion

The unauthorised diversion of food, drink or feed intended for disposal back into relevant supply chains
Adulteration Reducing the quality of a food product through the inclusion of a foreign substance, with the intention either to make production costs lower, or apparent quality higher
Substitution Replacing a food product or ingredient with another substance of a similar but inferior kind
Misrepresentation of origin, quality, provenance or benefits The marketing or labelling of a product so as to inaccurately portray its quality, safety, benefit, origin or freshness
Misrepresentation of durability date

The false declaration of the freshness, or expiration date, of a product

Document Fraud

The use of false or misappropriated documents to sell, market or otherwise vouch for a fraudulent or substandard product.

Three lines of defence

The threat to industry and consumers in Scotland takes many forms and varies from low level criminality to complex fraud across supply chains. As part of tackling food crime,there are three key lines of defence to make sure that food is both safe and authentic.

  • Food businesses and industry
  • Consumers
  • Regulators and law enforcement

Each of these can help with:

  • Raising awareness of food crime
  • Developing the intelligence picture
  • Sharing intelligence and information with partners
  • Identifying instances of criminality
  • Supporting investigations, including multi-agency collaboration
  • Prevention and Enforcement activity
  • Prosecution of offenders
  • Development of fraud prevention technologies
  • Supply chain surveillance

Reporting food crime

If you suspect a food crime has taken place, you can report this to us completely anonymously. You can contact us by:

More on this topic



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.



Report Food Crime Toolkit

How to support our campaign


Food incidents

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