« | Home | »

Food Fraud

Tags: |

Horse sold as beef led to Chris Elliott’s review into the integrity and assurance of food supply networks. His interim report was published on 12 December. The proposed ‘food crime unit’ gripped the media. It’s a good idea. But not as good as the idea for a ‘legally privileged information gathering facility’ run by industry, separate from government. Elliott could have called it a ‘clype unit’ if he’d used his Ulster Scots. A clype is a tell-tale. The facility would be a safe haven for industry to share suspicions, even gossip, while protecting commercial confidentiality.

Detecting food fraud is difficult. Law enforcers focus on food safety. But fraudsters don’t always endanger health. A deceitful swindle in Shetland is called a ‘swick’. Between 2002 and 2005, 17 skippers (most living on the island of Whalsay, said to have a bigger proportion of millionaires than Chelsea) landed illegal (over quota) mackerel and herring worth £47.5 million. They were in league with the processors who deceived the inspectors with falsified log books, rigged weighing scales and secret pipes which transported landings to uninspected parts of the premises, controlled by a lever in a peerie hut known as the ‘Wendy House’. The door was marked: ‘Keep Out. Electricity. Danger of Death.’ No amount of laboratory testing would have detected the scam. The mackerel were mackerel and the herring herring. It came to light because the fishermen were declaring much higher earnings to the Inland Revenue than the apparent value of their fish landings.

Cheap food has been the public expectation for years. But anyone who thinks that it always comes unswicked is a gype.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • andymartinink on Reacher v. Parker: Slayground definitely next on my agenda. But to be fair to Lee Child, as per the Forbes analysis, there is clearly a massive collective reader-writer ...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: And in Breakout, Parker, in prison, teams up with a black guy to escape; another white con dislikes it but accepts the necessity; Parker is absolutely...
    • Robert Hanks on Reacher v. Parker: Parker may not have the integrity and honesty of Marlowe, but I'd argue that Richard Stark writes with far more of both than Raymond Chandler does: Ch...
    • Christopher Tayler on Reacher v. Parker: Good to see someone holding up standards. The explanation is that I had thoughts - or words - left over from writing about Lee Child. (For Chandler se...
    • Geoff Roberts on Reacher v. Parker: ..."praised in the London Review of Books" Just read the article on Lee Child in a certain literary review and was surprised to find this rave notice...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement