Food Crime

Food crime is an emerging focus for law enforcement authorities, affecting food suppliers, distributors and manufacturers of all sizes. 

A conventional understanding of food crime involves dishonesty, relating to the production or supply of food that is either complex in nature or likely to have a serious detrimental effect on another party or is against public interest. As a subset of this, food fraud is the dishonest act or omission relating to the production or supply of food, intended for personal gain of one party, or to the loss of another party, and becomes a crime when the scale or activity is deemed to be serious. This can relate to the geographical extent of the crime; the risk posed to public safety, or if it causes substantial financial loss to others. As a practical example, food crime can involve food or drink that has been adulterated or substituted, or deliberately marketed as being of a certain quality when it is not.  However, there is scope for the ambit of food crime to be extended beyond the concept of “dishonesty” in sale or production, to include potential liability where, for example, supply chain methods are sub-standard, there is alleged anti-competitive conduct or an allegation of bribery has arisen in the context of the manufacture process.

In terms of procedure, the Food Standard's Agency (FSA) works with local authorities to enforce food law in the United Kingdom, and has the power to bring prosecutions under the Food Standards Act 1999.  Other law enforcement authorities may also investigate potential food crime matters, by reference to wider criminal legislation or offences at common law.

Jonathan Fisher QC has experience acting for individuals and corporate clients in the food and drink industry, on allegations of fraud, bribery and specific food-related offences. At Bright Line Law, we give specialist advise to businesses facing allegations of food crime, and provide expert guidance on regulatory compliance and enforcement in relation to the food and drink industry.

Bright Line Law is highly regarded as a specialist provider, winning the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers of 2017 award, as well as being Top Ranked within the UK Bar Chambers for 2018 and 2019. Bright Line Law is a specialist provider in this area, contact a member of our team, call us on + 44 (0)203 709 9470, or fill in our online enquiry form.

Jonathan Fisher QC
Lead Counsel

Telephone + 020 3872 2852

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