Food Fraud Report reveals UK confidence is declining

A new Food Fraud Report has revealed which type of food outlet consumers most mistrust.

The research by NFU Mutual shows that takeaways are the least trusted type of food outlet (42%), followed by online (21%) and convenience stores (16%). Almost three quarters believe there to be an issue with food fraud in the UK, with over a quarter also believing that they have personally experienced it. Hearing about high profile cases of fraudulent food in the media, such as the horsemeat scandal in 2013, is the most common cause of reduced confidence in nearly half of consumers (46%).

Commenting on the report, Darren Seward, hospitality sector specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Our research exposes the damaging effect that various influencers have had on consumer confidence over time, and shows takeaways seem to have the most work to do to improve that trust. Improving communication may be the answer as customers are increasingly demanding transparency and accessibility to food ingredients, nutritional and provenance information to inform their purchase decisions, and hospitality businesses should focus on delivering this information to stay current and catch up with retailers and producers.”

The report also reveals that over two thirds of people regularly take measures to ensure their food is legitimate and 17% avoid certain foods altogether that they believe could be susceptible to fraud. Almost four out of five respondents though (77%) said that they would not know how to spot a counterfeit product. To download a free PDF copy of the full report, visit www.nfumutual.co.uk/foodfraud

Tips from Dr Lisa Ackerley, food safety advisor at the British Hospitality Association, to help combat food fraud:

Know your food chain – Keeping a short supply chain will make it easier to monitor and manage where your produce comes from. Ask your suppliers what measures they have in place to safeguard their product.

Source locally – This not only makes it easier to engage with your supplier but also supports the local community and economy. You can visit their facilities and see first-hand how they manage their food or livestock and verify that they are meeting UK laws and standards.

Labelling – Today’s consumers are more discerning than ever about what they eat. Providing information on the menu on where the food was sourced and the nutritional information allows customers to see exactly what it is in their food and where it came from. This will help to gain their trust and confidence.

Awareness – Inform staff about your strategies to find and stop food fraud. If appropriate, make this visible to customers so they can see that you are serious about combating fraud.

Assess your vulnerability – Audit of your vulnerabilities. Check your tech, staff, suppliers and stock taking methods.

Report it – By reporting any suspicions to the National Food Crime Unit you not only protect yourself but also the reputation of the industry. Making it as hard as possible for crime to prevail ensures we stay a responsible and dependable industry.

Consult the professionals – If you are unsure of what regulations you need to be following or best practice when it comes to implementing safeguards consult industry professionals such as the Food Standards Agency www.food.gov.uk.

What is “food fraud”? For the purpose of the survey, food fraud means the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering with or misrepresentation of food, ingredients, or packaging at some stage of the product’s distribution cycle. It also means false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain.

 

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