May 23, 2016

Fraud and Counterfeiting in the Food Industry makes the Sector Sick

Food fraud might not be something that much consideration has been given to by the wider population, however, it is a real problem and one which may cause serious harm.

Examples include counterfeit alcohol (such as Vodka or wine as reported in the Independent Newspaper), copper sulphate coated olives and illegal meat all of which may cause serious health problems to those who consume them.  Various other products are also moved around the globe by criminal gangs, deceiving consumers by using counterfeit products, ingredients or packaging.

Food fraud reportedly costs the global food industry between $30 and $40 billion annually, and can cause serious problems for the food industry in cases where the supply chain is not effectively monitored and controlled. With the food industry becoming increasingly complex and globalised, opportunities have arisen for fraudsters where increasingly complex supply chains are subject to less scrutiny that they may have been in the past.  The recent Tesco horse meat scandal (as reported in the Guardian Newspaper) is a very high profile example of where supply chains in global markets have failed spectacularly.

There are various categories of food fraud, the most well-known to you probably being counterfeiting. As with fashion and furniture, for example, this is typically where a sub-standard product is labelled with the brand/packaging of a successful producer in the industry. The sale of counterfeit alcohol costs the UK £1.2 billion per year. Another type of food fraud is mislabelling, which means making false claims on packaging, for example that is contains certain ingredients when it does not or, using the example of fish, is pole-caught when it was not.

The advice is that if an offer looks to good to be true then question why and check the product carefully for signs of counterfeiting or fraud.  Given the professionalism of some counterfeiting or the inability to identify the fraud (such as, where the claims are made in relation to the ingredients a product contains) this may prove difficult.  If in any doubt the best advice is not to consume the product.

If you are affected by any of the above issues and wish to seek legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or

in: Companies, Consumer Law, Copyright, News, Passing Off, Regulatory, Trade Marks

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