What is Food Fraud?
Food fraud is committed when food is illegally placed on the market with the intention of deceiving the customer, usually for financial gain. The detection of food fraud is not easy, although it is sometimes possible to identify products where fake packaging and labelling have been used, particularly where the originals may have been poorly counterfeited. All buyers along the food chain should also be conscientious when purchasing food or ingredients and may be right to be suspicious if they are offered a product that is well below the normal cost price.
Careful checking of the labelling or packaging can also highlight fraud. If anything looks unclear or misleading, food business owners should ask questions and if there are no reassurances, they should not purchase the food or ingredients. Examples include:
- Mislabelling of food, whilst not necessarily unsafe, deceives the consumer as to the nature of the product
- products substituted with a cheaper alternative e.g. caged hen eggs sold as free range and virgin 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.
Online: Make a complaint form
Advice Line: 0818 33 66 77
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.
See more on the Food Fraud Task Force
Last reviewed: 3/11/2021