FSA ramps up ways to blow the whistle on meat fraud
03 May 2023 --- The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is teaming up with the broader food industry to strengthen ways to protect against rogue actors and criminal activity, particularly targeting meat fraud.
Last month, the FSA launched a criminal investigation after an undisclosed meat producer provided products labeled as British that were sourced from other countries. Moreover, some of these products might have been rotten.
Since then, the FSA has been exploring improvements to the current system alongside the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, the British Meat Processors Association, the British Retail Consortium, the Food and Drink Federation, the Food Industry Intelligence Network, and Red Tractor.
Bolstering reporting methods
Following a review, the organizations have developed several ways to boost the reporting of suspected meat fraud. They focus on adopting a single telephone number or website that whistleblowers can contact to report concerns about food businesses. There are currently multiple telephone lines run by industry bodies, as well as one run by the FSA.
They will also strengthen third-party audits’ role in passing on information to regulators to help prevent food fraud. Third-party audits are used by retailers and others to check their supply chains.
The FSA also wants to hone in on the best format and mechanism for sharing intelligence-based alerts to better warn businesses about supply chain problems.
“Our members are fully committed to ensuring a high level of safety, quality and integrity in the food chain. We support the FSA’s review to look at improvements to the current system, including exploring a simpler, more refined hotline for whistleblowing, as well as ensuring information is shared as effectively and efficiently as possible to prevent and tackle food crime,” says Andrew Opie, director of Food & Sustainability at the British Retail Consortium.
Helen Sisson, director and co-chair of the Food Industry Intelligence Network, flags their commitment to fighting meat fraud. “It is imperative that the public has confidence in UK food and an important part of that is ensuring food crime in supply chains is identified and dealt with quickly,” she says.
The FSA also remains concerned about the pressure on local authority resources to tackle food crime but will continue to help local authorities make the best use of their resources.
Edited by Gaynor Selby
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