New venture to combat fraud

Shoppers get hotline to fight ‘food crime’

Geoff OgleConsumers are being urged to help combat a growing problem of ‘food crime’ which costs the industry £1.2 billion a year.

Food crime includes activities such as mislabelling and counterfeiting and Food Standards Scotland has forged a partnership with Crimestoppers to pursue those responsible.

They have launched a free Scottish Food Crime Hotline to allow consumers to report any suspicious activities.

The hotline is the latest response to the 2013 report from the then Minister for Public Health following the revelations that horse meat had been found in some products.

Geoff Ogle (pictured), chief executive, Food Standards Scotland, said: “Consumers have a right to know that the food they are buying and eating is both safe and authentic. Food crime is damaging for the public and the industry, eroding trust and value.

“The launch of the free Scottish Food Crime Hotline is one of a number of steps FSS is taking to address the problem in Scotland. We hope it will raise awareness of the issue of food crime and give consumers a trusted point of contact to report concerns in complete anonymity. 

“The intelligence we receive will be invaluable in advancing our work with Police Scotland and other agencies to hold to account those who put consumer safety at risk for financial gain.”

Aileen Campbell MSP, Minister for Public Health, said: “Scotland is known the world over for the quality of its food and drink. Safeguarding the integrity of our supply chain is essential to ensure consumers have absolute trust in the products they buy and that our reputation as a land of food and drink is protected.

“This initiative is a practical and powerful way to tackle the problem of food crime. I would encourage both consumers and industry to make use of the hotline or online reporting form to anonymously share any concerns and help us stamp out fraudulent practices.”

Mark Hallas, chief executive of Crimestoppers, said: “We are delighted to be working with FSS to bring our experience to bear on an issue which is having a serious impact on both consumers and industry.

“The free hotline and online form will provide a simple and trusted way for individuals to report any concerns, large or small, and, like the services we provide to other enforcement agencies, will help gather vital intelligence to crack down on food crime.”

Steve Johnson, assistant chief constable, Police Scotland, said:  “Food crime is a serious issue and a collaborative approach with FSS, other enforcement agencies and the charity Crimestoppers will enable us to identify and deal with offenders as swiftly and effectively as possible.”

The free hotline number – 0800 028 7926 – will be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There will also be an option to report concerns via a non-traceable online form.



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