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    Food crime costs economy ‘£2 billion a year’

    Photo: iStock

    Food crime costs the UK economy up to “£2 billion a year”, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has stated in a report released on Tuesday (10).

    According to FSA’s recently published report “The Cost of Food Crime”, the cost of food fraud to consumers, businesses, and government is estimated to be between £410 million and £1.96 billion per year, suggesting a “heavy burden” on the food sector.

    People are often unaware that they are a victim of food fraud, but food crime can be seriously harmful to consumers, according to the FSA.

    FSA says this often involves selling food or drink that isn’t what it says it is, or goods that include cheaper ingredients than the ones listed on the label.

    Once a food fraud had been committed, each case was estimated to cost between £16,000 and £151,000 for small cases and between £423,000 and £7.2m for larger cases.

    Among other measures announced, a new free phone line has been created by the UK’s food safety watchdog to help people report suspected food fraud. Its new free phone number is aimed at helping people working in the food industry share their concerns about potential food crimes “freely and confidentially”.

    CEO of the FSA, Emily Miles said: “The UK has some of the safest and most authentic food in the world, but there will always be a threat of criminality in the food system. Food businesses are the first and most important line of defence and we want to support them.

    “This is one of the reasons why we launched a working group to explore together whether some areas of our collective response to food crime can be improved.

    “Together, we’re making it easier to share intelligence and information by helping people who work in the food system to share their concerns with us freely and confidentially. Our research suggests that for businesses and consumers feeling the financial strain, the cost of food crime still matters.”

    Director and co-chair of the food industry intelligence network, Helen Sisson said: “We are pleased to be taking action with the FSA and our partners in the food industry to strengthen the way we can prevent food crime in our supply chains.

    “Co-operation and communication between every part of the food system is vital to protect the public and the global reputation of UK food.”

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