Preventing food crime in West Northamptonshire

When you think of illegal activities, food crime might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it is something that it is happening in West Northamptonshire and across the country.

Food crime is where food and drink is sold illegally, and is often unsafe or is not what it claims to be. It can range from isolated acts of dishonesty by an individual, to organised illegal activities planned by criminal networks and is estimated to cost £1.17 billion a year in the UK.

There are many types of food crime, which the most common being:

  • Theft - dishonestly obtaining food, drink or feed products to profit from their use or sale
  • Illegal processing - slaughtering or preparing meat and related products in unapproved premises or using unauthorised techniques
  • Waste diversion - illegally diverting food, drink or feed meant for disposal, back into the supply chain
  • Adulteration - including a foreign substance which is not on the product’s label to lower costs or fake a higher quality
  • Substitution - replacing a food or ingredient with another substance that is similar but inferior
  • Misrepresentation - marketing or labelling a product to wrongly portray its quality, safety, origin or freshness
  • Fraud - making, using or possessing false documents with the intent to sell or market a fraudulent or substandard product
Consumers of food and drink products should have confidence that their food is safe and what it says it is. However, unfortunately there are individuals and businesses who continue to exploit consumers by illegally selling and distributing counterfeit items which can be seriously harmful to consumers, food businesses and the wider food industry.

We would urge anyone who is made aware of potential food crime or suspects illegal activity to report this our teams or the food standards agency. Together, we can help to stamp out food crime.
Cllr David Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety & Engagement and Regulatory Services

What to look out for:

  • Food or drink which is significantly cheaper than you would expect it to be
  • Concerns at a food business where they could be extending durability date, using poorer quality products or making false claims
  • You see food being delivered to a business in a non-business vehicle

If you have concerns about food crime please contact West Northamptonshire Council Environmental Health Team by emailing

To find out more information visit the National Food Crime Unit webpage.

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