What is food crime and how does it differ from food fraud?

National Food Crime Unit ident
We look at the subtle but clear difference between the terms food crime and food fraud.

Many attempts have been made to define and ascribe meaning to the terms ‘food fraud’ and ‘food crime’ both in the UK and overseas. Furthermore, individual commentators often employ a range of other terms to describe specific elements of much the same thing.

While the distinction between food fraud and food crime may seem a purely semantic one, wider confusion around terminology can in fact inhibit a mature understanding of the range of threats we face to the safety and authenticity of UK food. 

How we define them

In the NFCU we use the following definitions:

Food fraud: A dishonest act or omission, relating to the production or supply of food, which is intended for personal gain or to cause loss to another party

Food crime: Dishonesty relating to the production or supply of food, that is either complex or likely to be seriously detrimental to consumers, businesses or the overall public interest

Food fraud becomes food crime when the scale and potential impact of the activity is considered to be serious. This might mean that the criminal activity has cross-regional, national or international reach, that there is significant risk to public safety, or that there is a substantial financial loss to consumers or businesses. Clearly the full extent and impact of food criminality may not be immediately apparent when information is first received.

We want to hear from you

The NFCU wants to hear about both food fraud and food crime. Any dishonesty in the food supply chains within the UK are serious and will need to be addressed, either by the relevant local authority or with the support of the NFCU.

Call Food Crime Confidential on 0207 276 8787 or email foodcrime@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk