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The supplier stressed the incident was isolated with ’no suggestion that any other customers are affected’

Derbyshire-based Loscoe Chilled Foods has confirmed it is the meat supplier involved in a beef fraud investigation by the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit.

The Sun newspaper today reported the supplier was “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”.

The NFCU’s investigation alleges the imported beef was labelled and sold as British.

The probe, titled Operation Hawk, was first launched in 2021 and centred on the directors of an un-named company “responsible for selling large volumes of pre-packed meat products to a UK supermarket retailer, who pride themselves on only selling British products”, according to a report published on the FSA’s website late last year.

The investigation then hit the headlines last week when Farmers Weekly unveiled further detail around the case – revealing it was related to imported, pre-packed sliced beef products.

Amid growing speculation, northern retailer Booths confirmed it was the supermarket that had sold the beef last Friday.

It said that it had been “working closely and co-operatively with the NFCU since being made aware of potential food fraud issues in 2021”.

Booths was retailer that sold beef linked to fraud case

However, Booths “categorically” stressed it was not under investigation itself and had “acted instantly” once made aware of potential issues in 2021. It removed “all relevant products from sale and ceased trading with the supplier with immediate effect”, Booths said, adding it had “no knowledge of any other aspects of the investigation”.

Loscoe director Daniel Ryde today confirmed to The Grocer that the family-owned supplier was “currently supporting the Food Standards Agency with an investigation into an isolated issue concerning sliced corned beef supplied to a single customer in March 2021”.

This was “not a food safety issue”, he added, “and there is no suggestion that any other customers are affected”.

“Nonetheless we take this very seriously and are fully supporting the FSA with its work,” he said.

Loscoe Chilled Foods operates from two sites in Heanor, north of Derby, offering a range of processed and cooked meat and whole muscle meat joints.

Food fraud ‘alive and well’ as news of beef fraud probe emerges

It supplies into retail, foodservice and the public sector, and can trace its history back to 1895, when Edward Ryde opened a butchers shop under the name Edward Ryde & Sons in Belper, Derbyshire.

The emergence of the NFCU’s fraud investigation has prompted fresh concerns over the integrity of meat supply chains, 10 years on from the Horsegate scandal.

“Any fraud investigations of this nature take time to go through evidence and bring to any outcome, including any potential prosecution. We take food fraud very seriously and are acting urgently to protect the consumer,” said Andrew Quinn, deputy head of the NFCU late last week.

The unit had declined to give any further detail around the investigation – including the name of the supplier and the timescale of the alleged fraud – citing fears it could jeopardise the investigation and any future proceedings.

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