UK supermarket Booths has confirmed that it was supplied with meat products which claimed to be British when in fact they were sourced from South America and Europe in 2021.

The Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) in the UK confirmed to Agriland that it is investigating how the retailer was supplied with mislabelled products.

Pre-packed sliced meat and deli products were affected, however, the case is not a food safety issue but a matter of food fraud, NFCU deputy head, Andrew Quinn said.

Booths confirmed that all relevant products were removed from sale, and trading with the supplier ceased with immediate effect when the retailer was made aware of the potential issues in 2021.

In a statement seen by Agriland, Booths said it has been working closely with the NFCU since, however, stressed that it is “categorically NOT under investigation by the NFCU”.

Food fraud investigation

“Booths’ support for the investigation relates to a limited selection of cooked meat products and Booths have no knowledge of any other aspects of the investigation,” the statement read.

The retailer stressed that “with the exception of the limited selection of cooked meat products impacted in 2021, Booths is absolutely confident in its British-only meat commitment”.

“It is also important to note the whilst the NFCU investigation relates to a potential food fraud incident, this is not a food safety issue.

“Issues of provenance, traceability, honesty and authenticity are of the highest importance to Booths, and the business has been fully co-operating with and supporting the work of the NFCU for the past 18 months,” the supermarket said.

The case against the supplier and any fraud investigations of this nature take time to go through evidence and bring to any outcome, including any potential prosecution, Quinn added.