The Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit (SFCIU) has issued a warning for the red meat sector as it is labelled as ‘high risk’ for exploitation and food crime.

The SFCIU has listed the red meat industry as being high risk because it has “been exploited in the past and continues to be targeted by criminals across the supply chain”, the unit said.

“It is highly likely that food crime is taking place in this sector but it is challenging to understand the scale of those criminal activities.

“On-going work has indicated concerns relating to fraudulently tagged livestock, misrepresentation of red meat either by origin or durability date and also substitution of product.”

The SFCIU listed the potential risks to the industry as:

  • Fraudulent use of ID tags, cattle passports, accreditation etc.;
  • Mislabeling of durability date;
  • Other origin red meat sold as Scottish;
  • Lower quality of product misrepresented as premium;
  • Stolen livestock;
  • Illegal slaughter;
  • Animal by-products;
  • Food crime occurring in other meat products such as ready meals.

The SFCIU is part of Food Standards Scotland (FSS), and recently collaborated with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to produce objectives and a framework to help understand and tackle food crime.

The four key objectives for the 2022-2025 control strategy were listed as Divert; Deter; Detect and Disrupt.

Its remit in relation to food, drink and animal feed, is to prevent, investigate and disrupt serious and/or complex fraudulent conduct and serious and/or regulatory non-compliance involving dishonesty in relation to the Scottish food and drink industry.

The unit said it wants to “continue to raise food crime as a national issue to ensure awareness and deter those who may become involved in this activity”.