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Investigations and Fraud

Food fraud is where food is illegally placed on the market with the intention of deceiving the customer, usually for financial gain.

Detection of food fraud is not easy, although it is sometimes possible to identify products where fake packaging and labelling are used. This is particularly the case when the originals may be counterfeit. 

All buyers along the food chain should be cautious when purchasing food or ingredients if the price is well below normal. Careful checking of labelling or packaging can also highlight fraud. If anything looks unclear or misleading, food business owners should ask questions. If there are no reassurances, they should not purchase the food or ingredients. Examples include:

  • Mislabelling of food. Whilst not necessarily unsafe, this deceives the consumer as to the nature of the product. For example:
    • products substituted with a cheaper alternative, e.g., caged hen eggs sold as free; range or virgin or olive oil adulterated with cheaper grades;
    • frozen product sold as fresh.
  • Making false statements about the source of ingredients, e.g., labelling imported meat as Irish.
  • The sale of food which is unfit and potentially harmful:
    • recycling products destined for animal feed back into the food chain;
    • goat’s cheese made from cow’s milk, e.g., potentially allergenic.

If you know or suspect food fraud is taking place – what can you do? Contact the FSAI with as many details of the suspected food fraud as possible.

All information received may be used to assist in an investigation, so please include as much detail as possible, including your name and contact number in case we need to verify your information. All information received is treated in the strictest confidence