Food Crime & Incidents

Food Crime Hotline

Request

1 - The number of calls made to the Scottish Food Crime Hotline since launch in August 2016, broken down by year.

2 - Information on how many staff are allocated to the Scottish Food Crime Hotline.

3 - The annual cost of running the Scottish Food Crime Hotline.

Response

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information to question one because an exemption under section 27(1) (Information intended for future publication) of FOISA applies to that information.

Please see the answers to questions two and three below.

2 - Information on how many staff:

There are no Food Standards Scotland staff dedicated to answering calls to the Scottish Food Crime Hotline. All calls to the Scottish Food Hotline are managed by Crimestoppers, which are dealt with by their trained staff on a confidential and anonymous basis.

3. Annual cost for running Hotline:

The annual cost is £21,600, which includes the cost for Crimestoppers to manage and operate the service 24/7, 365 days a year.

Outside of your FOI request, you may be interested in the following information, tackling food crime is of upmost importance in protecting consumers and upholding the reputation of food and drink producers who operate within the law.

Following the Horsemeat incident in 2013, the Minister for Public Health commissioned a study to identify the lessons that could be learned and where improvements could be made to food and also feed standards in Scotland. This study was chaired by Jim Scudamore, who identified short term recommendations that needed to be implemented by Scottish Government, local authorities and the Food Standards Agency in Scotland.

The longer-term recommendations of the Scudamore review were for FSS to create a dedicated unit to address food fraud following its creation on 1 April 2015. As a result of this the Scottish Food Crime and Incident Unit (SFCIU) was set up by Food Standards Scotland in October 2015.

Food Crime costs the UK economy £1.17 billion a year, yet there is limited public awareness about it, despite its many consequences. These can range from the obvious risk to public health, through to defrauding the public and honest food businesses.

The Scottish Food Crime Hotline was launched in 2016 to help us fulfil our role as food industry ‘protectors’ and safeguard the public. During this time we have raised significant awareness of food crime and gathered vital intelligence to target those involved in food-related criminal activities.

Ultimately, consumers have the right to know where their food and drink comes from and that it is safe and poses no risk to their health. The food crime hotline is an integral part of this and contributes significantly to ensuring food safety and provenance.

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