A year since the NFA set up an authority to fight food crime, head of local authority support Jan Sjogren told FoodNavigator: “This morning the prosecution dropped a case of food fraud against a company though it was argued that the product lacked information about its origins. We need the prosecution to take us more seriously. We want possible prison sentencing for serious offenders to act as a deterrent for food crimes.”
Crime in the food sector is rarely limited to food legislation. It may also involve tax, accounting fraud or unauthorised entry. NFA has established partnerships with the customs, tax agency, the public ministry and police intelligence, said Sjogren.
Underlying the lack of support from courts, Sjogren added that though there have been instances where they have identified a food crime they have not yet been able to win their case in court. He however added that they are “sure of uncovering a couple of cases this year”.
“We will get them,” he said. “We need more resources to fight food crime and a dedicated special task force to expose fraudsters.”
The report also highlighted the need to reinstate prison in the range of penalties in the Food Act and opportunities for it to remove dangerous and incorrect food from the market.
“We also want better police cooperation to be able to access premises and seize counterfeit products,” added Sjogren.
The NFA said it was happy with the support it had received from the food industry so far.
Sjogren said: “There is a growing awareness among food companies that a counterfeit market is cutting into their profits. Especially for those who play by the book, food fraud can affect a large portion of the market share. So they have been supporting us,” he said.
The NFA was granted 4.5m krona (€481,932) last year with which it set up a food criminal group to work with municipalities and country councils. They were granted the same amount this year to continue their work.
Over the next three years the NFA plans to conduct a comprehensive education initiative. The goal is to have more inspectors to detect food frauds at their regular controls, including a more investigative attitude.
“Food inspectors are used to dealing with health and hygiene issues but now they are being trained to deal with food fraud too,” he said.
NFA also operates in international cooperation with the European Commission Network Food Fraud Network.