The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a criminal investigation into potential food fraud following recent reporting in the media.
The FSA was alerted about food fraud allegations linked to cooked beef products from a single supplier in August 2021 and began seizing evidence shortly afterwards. Products from the affected retailer were removed from shelves immediately. We gave advice to industry in December 2021 and May 2022 to do extra due diligence on cooked meat supply chains.
In March this year, the FSA received additional intelligence about suspected wider fraud, and possible hygiene issues relating to the same supplier. This led FSA to execute a warrant at a premises, with the assistance of police and local trading standards and environmental health officers. More evidence was seized and three people arrested.
The additional allegations in March were made about the safety of meat as well as fraud. The respective local authority has since withdrawn approval for the business. Those businesses referred to in the new allegations have been advised of these concerns. They have begun specific sampling relating to these allegations and ended their relationship with the suspect supplier. Food production using meat from this supplier has been stopped in order to ensure that their food is safe.
Based on the investigation to date, the FSA and the relevant local authority for the implicated business have no indication that there is unsafe food on the market, or that there is a current increased risk to consumers.
Emily Miles, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency said:
“We are continuing our criminal investigation into how a meat supplier allegedly provided products labelled as British when they were in fact sourced from other countries.
This is a live investigation which means we are looking into all new lines of inquiry with the relevant local authorities, including investigating potential food hygiene breaches. This is alongside the work we are doing to investigate food fraud.
Based on the investigation to date, there is no indication that food is unsafe or there is an increased risk to consumers.
Criminal investigations take time and need to be done with due process and fairness. The FSA will work tirelessly on behalf of consumers to ensure that this criminal investigation is done to the highest possible standards.
I do want to emphasise at a time when cost pressures and other challenges mean the risks of food fraud might be increasing, it is vital everyone involved in the food chain works to ensure that food is safe and what it says it is.”