Foodservice businesses have been put on high alert over the risk of fraudulent meat after it was revealed that a supplier to the sector is involved in an investigation by the national food crime unit (NFCU) into mislabelling of the origin of beef products.
Farmers Weekly broke the news last week that upmarket Northern supermarket chain Booths has been selling pre-packed meat and deli products from South America and Europe labelled as “best British”.
The retailer, which is not itself under investigation, has confirmed it is supporting the NFCU in its investigation into the supplier of the product which was this week revealed as Loscoe Chilled Foods.
The Sun reported that Daniel Ryde, a director of the Derbyshire-based company, had confirmed the supplier’s involvement. Ryde said: “We are actively working with the FSA to assist in a supply chain investigation and to establish the possibility that South American corned beef may have passed through one of our slicing sites in March 2021. Whilst the investigation is ongoing we cannot comment further as it may prejudice the integrity of the investigation. We understand this is an isolated issue that does not concern food safety.”
Loscoe Chilled Foods describes itself as “specialist manufacturers of quality meat products”. It supplies meat for the foodservice sector including public sector institutions such as schools and hospitals, according to its website.
Professor Chris Elliott, who conducted the UK government’s independent review into the horsemeat scandal, said the Booths discovery was likely to be the tip of the iceberg. “I’m following the latest meat scandal with a lot of interest,” he told Footprint. “I had predicted something like this would happen only a few months ago; not because I had inside information but because of all the economic indicators over the past few years. I’m afraid my next prediction is that this is the tip of an ugly iceberg and more revelations will appear in the not too distant future.”
Elliott was a recent guest on the Footprint40 podcast in which he set out the specific vulnerabilities of the foodservice sector to fraudulent food and drink entering the supply chain.
The production of South American beef has previously been linked to illegal deforestation in critical ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforest.