Cases of organised meat theft pose threat to consumers
Two recent reports of cases of organised meat thefts in the UK highlight a need for vigilance within the industry.
The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), the law enforcement capability within the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), has received a report from a major retailer about the theft of meat and poultry items by a driver network. The theft is believed to have taken place over a considerable time period, and there is concern that the stolen products may have entered the human food chain via a restaurant. The products are likely to have been removed from the cold chain following the theft, posing a risk to human health in the event that these products are consumed.
The NFCU has also received reports of an organised group obtaining meat fraudulently from meat processors and traders. In the cases of which the NFCU is aware, a woman has placed orders for meat products over the phone and paid for them using several credit cards. The woman has then organised for a taxi to transport the meat to fictional addresses in London and Southend-On-Sea, again paying for the transportation by means of a credit card. The taxi was later diverted to another address in Southend and, in one case, the meat was loaded into a van. Subsequently, both the meat purveyor and the taxi firms were notified that the payments made on the credit cards were fraudulent, meaning they were required to refund the transactions.
The group is believed to have used the stolen credit card details from outside of the UK, and the meat is believed to be entering the food chain via local retailers in Southend-On-Sea and other neighbouring areas. However, this has not yet been confirmed.
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