Food fraud

What to do if you suspect or know food fraud is taking place and resources available to local authorities tackling food fraud.

What is food fraud?

Food fraud is committed when food is deliberately placed on the market, for financial gain, with the intention of deceiving the consumer. Although there are many kinds of food fraud the two main types are:

  • the sale of food which is unfit and potentially harmful, such as:
    • recycling of animal by-products back into the food chain
    • packing and selling of beef and poultry with an unknown origin
    • knowingly selling goods which are past their 'use by' date
  • the deliberate misdescription of food, such as:
    • products substituted with a cheaper alternative, for example, farmed salmon sold as wild, and Basmati rice adulterated with cheaper varieties
    • making false statements about the source of ingredients, i.e. their geographic, plant or animal origin

Food fraud may also involve the sale of meat from animals that have been stolen and/or illegally slaughtered, as well as wild game animals like deer that may have been poached.

Food businesses – whistleblowing

If you work in the food industry and you are blowing the whistle in the public interest on wrongdoing where you work.

Email or phone the FSA:

The Agency's policy on whistleblowing explains how you will protected from detrimental treatment or victimisation from your employer under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1998.

Members of the public

If as a customer you have any suspicious about food being offered for sale, for example, if the meat being sold is unusually cheap and you have concerns about where meat has come from, please tell both the local authority and the Agency. We can then investigate whether the food or meat has been produced to the normal high standards of hygiene.

You can use our online search facility to find the local authority food law enforcement officer nearest to the business or the area where the suspected fraud is taking place.

Please send details to the Agency by emailing [email protected] or by calling the food fraud hotline on 020 7276 8527, where you will be asked to leave a message.

Information received may be used to assist local authorities in their investigations, so please include as much detail as possible in your message, including your name and number, in case information needs to be verified. All reports are treated in the strictest confidence.

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