Gangsters Food Paradise
The horsemeat scandal in 2013 brought food fraud to the attention of the world. While the general public quickly forgot about the event and moved on, the issue of fraudulence is only increasing as gangsters are moving from drugs to food. There are about 20 organised crime groups involved in some aspect of food and drink fraud in Britain and scams are now costing society ca. £1.2billion a year.
As chefs, foodies and general consumers how can we ensure that the ingredients we buy really matches what is on the label? In 2011, the Telegraph wrote that one in six farm shops and restaurants that claim to offer organic, local, fresh or handmade foods were providing false claims and cheating their customers. Since then, several scandals have been revealed from fake olive oil to honey.
The effects from such food fraud can be widespread, ranging from the inconvenient to downright dangerous. Store bo
ught foods have been found to contain horsemeat when advertised as beef, mixed white fish species sold as cod, salt water pumped into chicken and fish to make it bigger and heavier and more. What’s worse is that the supply chain of many of these foods is so convoluted that not even the retailers and food suppliers exactly know what they are selling.
This increases risk of buying incorrectly labeled produce, , risks to health such as salmonella and more.
To best ensure our food actually contains what it says on the tin, so-to-speak, below are some tips to keep in mind.
- Learn to cook well and know your ingredients
I know this seems obvious but 1 in 8 British adults are unable to cook an omelette without a recipe. More and more are buying ready meals and overly processed foods, which can be impossible to trace and how many of the ingredients do you actually know about?
- Create strong and trusted relationships with your food shops, suppliers and food vendors.
- Ask for quality controls and traceability papers
- Study the food supply chain
Learn about food policies and how to get the best information. Great resources to get started are listed below.
- Food Fraud: What is really on the menu? – Big Issue
- Extra virgin on the ridiculous: Italian olive oil producers accused of fraud – The Guardian
- The fight against food fraud – The Financial Times
- National Food Crime Prevention Network Report 2014 – The UK Government