When the horsemeat scandal hit the UK, there was an outcry about food safety and labelling. While it has subsequently become clear that health was not at risk, the Elliott review, published at the beginning of September, seeks to ensure that in the future, our food will be less easily adulterated.The Food Standards Agency1 defines food fraud as when 'food is deliberately placed on the market, for financial gain, with the intention of deceiving the consumer'. Food crime, according to the Elliott Review, 'no longer involves random acts by rogues within the food industry but becomes an organised activity by groups which knowingly set out to deceive, and/ or injure, those purchasing food'.2Research suggests that adulterated olive oil is the biggest agricultural fraud in the European Union. Products labelled italian extra virgin olive oil are frequently found to have originated in Tunisia or libya and may simply be ordinary olive oil coloured with green chlorophyll.3 it has been suggested that the profits from olive oil fraud are 'comparable to cocaine trafficking but with none of the risks'.4 it is estimated that 1,700tonnes of manuka honey are produced annually in New Zealand; however, 1,800tonnes are sold annually in the UK alone and around 10,000tonnes worldwide.5 The biggest food fraud in US history also involved honey - although, in this case, chinese honey - that was deliberately shipped through other Asian nations to disguise its origins and evade import duties.6Most worrying are cases when foods are tainted or mislabelled in a way that can result in direct consumer harm. in china, powdered milk has been affected at least twice: in 2005, 13 babies died after being fed powdered milk that had no nutritional value, and in 2008, almost 300,000 children fell ill and at least six died after milk powder was contaminated with melamine, a poisonous, industrial chemical used to boost protein levels.3An investigation in 2005 in ireland found that category 3 animal by-products were being repacked and re-labelled as fit for human consumption.7 category 3 products are not suitable for consumption - they may be parts of animals that we don't normally eat (hides, hair, feathers, bones) or they may be waste from food factories and retail premises. Although lower risk than category 1 and 2 by-products, if they enter the food chain, they have the potential to negatively affect public health (both causing physical harm and mental distress), not least because the products may not have been stored appropriately based on food safety requirements.in anticipation of the publication of the final Elliott review, the RSPH asked a representative sample of the UK public (n = 2,010) which issues most concerned them about food fraud. We found that almost three quarters (73%) of the public were either very concerned or concerned about the recycling of animal by-products back into the food chain, and an equal proportion (73%) had concerns about the packing and selling of beef and poultry with an unknown origin.While the opinion poll also shows that concern about food fraud is high irrespective of income group, the reality is that the poorest in society are likely to be disproportionately affected. …

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