Food crime priorities

We worked with the Food Standards Agency to produce a Strategic Assessment which informed our food crime priorities. 

We focus on four key objectives: Divert, Deter, Detect and Disrupt. This sets a framework for activity to identify, understand and tackle food crime, providing an overarching strategic approach to managing the Scottish food crime priorities.

Detect Disrupt Deter Divert
Identify opportunities to gather intelligence and detect food crime across the supply chain Undertake intelligence-led multi-agency actions to target, mitigate and tackle threats

Work alongside partners and industry to ensure a hostile environment for criminals to operate in

Identify opportunities to implement prevention strategies with partners and industry  

Target individuals, groups and/or businesses involved in fraudulent activity using all available powers  Share intelligence and analytical products with partners to enhance assessments Prosecution of illegal activity through use of appropriate legislation Publicise prosecutions, interventions, enforcement actions and the risks to consumers
Undertake analysis of information, data and intelligence to identify trends, patterns and emerging risks within the food industry Utilise existing legislation available to the organisation and partners to seek positive outcomes Continue to raise food crime as a national issue to ensure awareness and deter those who may become involved in this activity Raise awareness of the repercussions of prosecution, potential for financial loss and reputational damage

Our current priorities are outlined below, but if you would like to find out more please download our Food Crime Control Strategy for 2020/21.

Red Meat

The red meat sector has been exploited in the past and continues to targeted by criminals across the supply chain. On-going work has indicated concerns relating to fraudulently tagged livestock, misrepresentation of red meat either by origin or durability date and also substitution of product.

Potential risks:

  • Fraudulent use of ID tags, cattle passports, accreditation etc.
  • Mislabelling of durability date
  • Other origin red meat sold as Scottish
  • Lower quality product misrepresented as premium
  • Stolen livestock
  • Illegal slaughter


Those exploiting the Scottish fish sector continue to be of interest, particularly with the fraudulent use of Scottish branding. There are also concerns relating to the importation of fish which have been illegally processed and pose a potential food safety issue.

Potential risks:

  • Lower quality product misrepresented as premium
  • Misrepresentation of origin, in particular salmon
  • Importation of illegally treated tuna 
  • Fraudulent use of official certification in UK and elsewhere
  • Impact of EU exit on Scottish supply chain and potential for durability misrepresentation

Counterfeit Alcohol

It is assessed as highly likely that counterfeit alcohol is being sold in Scotland. There is a public safety concern which warrants continued intelligence gathering and investigation resources to understand the scale of activity in Scotland and mitigate criminality taking place.

Potential risks:

  • Counterfeit alcohol entering Scotland via Northern Ireland
  • Importation or smuggling of counterfeit vodka into Scotland
  • Production of counterfeit alcohol in Scotland
  • Sale of counterfeit wine and spirits in Scotland
  • Importation and use of material and equipment to facilitate counterfeit alcohol production

Wild Shellfish

It is highly likely that illegally harvested shellfish are entering the supply chain which are potentially of significant financial value, posing a serious food safety concern and risks export market continuity. Reporting indicates continued activity in relation to both offshore and onshore gathering and has highlighted the organised nature of this criminality.

Potential risks:

  • Unknown scale of offshore and onshore illegal harvesting
  • Potential serious organised crime involvement
  • Misrepresentation of quality and origin of shellfish
  • Serious food safety risks associated with illegally harvested shellfish and hygiene conditions
  • Falsification of registration and landing documents
  • Links to modern slavery and exploitation
  • Threat to Scottish economy and reputation

Report food crime

Food crime can be reported anonymously through the Scottish Food Crime Hotline on 0800 028 7926 or by completing an online form.

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