Head of the Scottish Food Crime & Incidents Unit at Food Standards Scotland, Ron McNaughton, writes about the importance of working with partners to tackle food crime and how others can get involved.
Scotland’s food and drink industry is known around the world for its high quality production and exports. Collaborative working with partners, industry and members of the public is key to maintaining that high standard and protecting Scotland’s reputation.
Food crime is fraudulent activity. It can put people and businesses at risk, as well as impacting on the safety and authenticity of food and drink. Food crime costs the UK economy an estimated £1.2 billion each year.
The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) is currently working closely with 18 food and industry organisations who’re committed to tackling food crime and are working with Food Standards Scotland to achieve this. These include Quality Meat Scotland, Seafood Scotland, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA) which are just some of the bodies demonstrating their dedication to maintaining the standard and quality of Scottish food and drink.
The SFCIU cannot fight food crime alone. We work closely with industry, academia and partners across the UK and globally to make real progress in combating criminal behaviour. Working together is a key part of what we do, and it really does help to drive action against the unscrupulous individuals and criminal networks who seek to profit from food crime.
I recently had a discussion with Chris Elliott, Professor of Food Security at Queen's University Belfast and Director of the Institute for Global Food Safety. The video is available on the website and it’s aimed at those working in the food and drink industry and looks at the various issues around food crime and how to report it.
One of the main ways we can uncover food crime is through intelligence and information from within the industry as well as from the general public. The Scottish Food Crime Hotline is run on our behalf by Crimestoppers. The hotline is free, fully confidential and gives those in the industry an opportunity to report unusual or illegal activity via a secure platform. The hotline runs 24 hours a day and can be reached on 0800 028 7926.
The intelligence we receive is vital in advancing our work with Scottish Local Authorities, Food Standards Agency, Police Scotland and other agencies to hold to account those who put consumer safety at risk. It enables us to tackle fraudulent activity and take the appropriate action against criminals
- For more information on our food and drink industry partners, and how your organisation can get involved, visit our partners page.
- Watch the Q&A session on food crime that took place between Ron McNaughton and Professor Elliott