17 agricultural bodies back new Food Standards Scotland food crime unit

17 Scottish agri-food bodies have pledged to back a new division of Food Standards Scotland which aims to tackle food crime.

The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) aims to gather intelligence and investigate food crime in Scotland. The body also aims to make it easier for the public to report food crime and to raise awareness of the issue.

Those backing the initiative include Seafood Scotland, Soil Association, Scotland Food & Drink, Quality Meat Scotland, Lantra, Crimestoppers, and Safe and Local Supplier Approval (SALSA).

Ron McNaughton, who heads up the Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit, said: “Food crime costs the UK economy around £1.2 billion each year and it’s vital we tackle it to uphold Scotland’s well-deserved reputation for food that’s safe and of the highest quality and standard.

“We’re delighted to have support from key organisations which encourages food crime reporting as well as setting a standard for others. We rely on working with partners, and intelligence we get from industry is vital in helping us bring criminals to justice.”

Any knowledge or suspicions of food crime can be reported to the SFCIU’s free and confidential Scottish Food Crime Hotline, which is run in partnership with Crimestoppers, online or over the phone on: 0800-028-7926.

SALSA scheme development manager Bonnie Joplin said: “Consumers expect that the food they buy is safe and is what it says it is.

“It’s important that everyone along the food chain works together to tackle food crime – that’s why we are proud to support this initiative and the great work of the SFCIU.”

Food Standards Scotland recently collaborated with Prof. Chris Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Safety at Queen’s University Belfast, on a video examining key issues facing industry and businesses when tackling food crime.

Prof. Elliott said: “With complex supply chains and so many elements involved in bringing food to consumers, it is vital we work with industry and provide as much support for producers and suppliers as possible.

“The SFCIU’s collaboration with industry harnesses an information-sharing approach in Scotland and across the globe, setting a gold standard in the fight against rogue operators.”