Food crime

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

What is food crime?

Food crime involves serious and intentional dishonesty that impacts the safety or authenticity of food, drink or animal feed. The techniques used in food crime are:

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

Document fraud

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

As a consumer, you can play a part along with food businesses and industry, regulators and law enforcement, in ensuring food in Scotland is safe and authentic.

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

Find out more about our food crime strategy in Scotland and our priorities for 2020/21.

More on this topic



Food crime

Find out more about food crime and how to report it.



Report food crime toolkit

How to support our campaign


Report Food Crime - Leaflet

Help us prevent food crime.


Food incidents

What food incidents are and what needs to be done when they happen.