Crackdown on takeaways selling illegal meat

A crackdown on food crime has seen raids on properties suspected of illicit activity jump by 10% in three years, as lawyers described the “horror stories” of takeaways selling mislabelled meat. 

Local councils in the UK have stepped up their efforts to tackle food crime, with raids on businesses like off-licences and takeaways up from 115 in 2012-13 to 127 in 2014-15, said commercial law firm EMW, citing figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The illegal sale of counterfeit alcohol remained the main culprit of food crime that local councils have been targeting. But late-night takeaways and fast food outlets, where meat can be mislabelled and misrepresented to consumers, remained another offender, according to EMW.

“Although there has been a raise in raids, consumers will remain concerned that there are many more businesses escaping Trading Standards’ net,” said Sebastian Calnan, a consultant at EMW.

“Horror stories of takeaways substituting the advertised meat for illegal or unsavoury alternatives have been well publicised. Trading standards teams do a great job, but without adequate funding or resources, instances of food and drink fraud or mis-selling may slip through the cracks.

“As takeaways are common culprits of food fraud of mis-selling, trading standards teams at local councils will often target these venues, but more still needs to be done to ensure the selling of food and drink is both safe and fair for the consumer,” added Calnan.

EMW has suggested there are concerns over staff and budget cuts at local councils, which are affecting the authorities’ ability to adequately investigate food crime issues. Despite a 10% rise in the number of raids over the last three years, food hygiene interventions have dropped by 6.8%, despite complaints from consumers rising by nearly 10%, according to the FSA.

Out of the 363 raids carried out over the three-year period, just 45 of them resulted in an enforcement or legal prosecution.

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