Consumers should have confidence that their food is safe and what it says it is.
The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) is a dedicated law enforcement function of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). The unit provides leadership on food crime across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The unit works closely with the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit within Food Standards Scotland.
The NFCU was established in 2015 following a review of the 2013 horse meat incident. The NFCU is tasked with protecting consumers and the food industry from food crime within food supply chains.
We define food crime as serious fraud and related criminality in food supply chains. This definition also includes activity impacting on drink and animal feed. The NFCU response is determined by assessing the gravity of the fraud. This will include considerations of the degree of planning and co-ordination in committing it, the impact of the fraud across geographical regions and boundaries, and the financial loss and other harm to the public and industry.
Examples of food crime include the use of stolen food in the supply chain, unlawful slaughter, diversion of unsafe food, adulteration, substitution or misrepresentation of food, and document fraud.
The NFCU has developed a food fraud resilience self-assessment tool to support businesses in developing and implementing their counter-fraud strategy.
The self-assessment tool covers different areas that businesses will need to be aware of so that they can better identify and address process issues.
National Food Crime Unit objectives
The strategic objectives of the NFCU are to:
- Prevent food being rendered unsafe or inauthentic through dishonesty
- Disrupt offending and bring offenders to justice
- Build global and domestic counter food crime capability
The NFCU plays an important role in multi-sector engagement at national and international levels. It works closely with the food industry to ensure that businesses are well-informed and prepared to counter food crime. The Unit aims to create a hostile environment for those engaging in food crime by investigating suspected offenders or otherwise supporting partners in their lawful efforts to similarly disrupt those criminals.
National Food Crime Unit responses
The development and analysis of intelligence and information from a range of sources enables the Unit to prepare detailed strategic assessments that will identify threats, risks and vulnerabilities.
The unit works with industry to raise their awareness and test their response systems to food crime develops their resilience to the benefit of the food business and the public.
Control Strategy 2020-21
The NFCU Control Strategy 2020-21 outlines the Unit’s current food crime priorities, and the actions we are taking to prevent food crime, deter and disrupt food criminals and bring offenders to justice. We also highlight areas where we are developing our understanding in order to improve our approach to tackling food crime.
Following review in early 2021, we will continue to work to these priorities. We have also extended the 2020-21 priorities to further include:
- the diversion of meat and poultry animal by-products (ABP) back into the food and feed chain; and
- the production, importation and distribution of counterfeit and misrepresented alcohol.
Reporting food crime
Members of the public and those working in the food and drink sector can speak up about food crime through Food Crime Confidential.
Anyone with suspicions of food crime can report it safely and confidentially to the NFCU. You can report a food crime online or by phone on 0207 276 8787.