A UK supermarket has been found selling fake British beef. An investigation into the food fraud has now been launched, but the supermarket itself is not under investigation.
Booth has 27 different stores in the North West of England – including branches in Hale Barnes, Preston, Knutsford and Ormskirk. But now an investigation has been launched, after products labeled as British-sourced, which were actually imported from South America and Europe, were found in stores.
While the company itself is not being investigated, the National Food Crimes Unit (NFCU) is probing how the products ended up on its shelves and investigating one of its suppliers, the BBC reports. He said the products in question, pre-packaged sliced meats and deli products, were removed from stock as soon as booths were informed.
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The company was told about the products in 2021, and said they have ceased business with the supplier, which the NFCU has not disclosed. The upmarket chain prides itself on selling only 100% British meat.
The revelation comes 10 years after the 2013 horse meat scandal in which some burgers and ready meals were found to contain 100% horse meat. Booths also said that it holds the issues of origin, traceability, integrity and authenticity of products to the highest level, and that they have been fully cooperating with the NFCU over the past 18 months.
NFCU deputy chief Andrew Quinn said on Thursday that this is not a food safety issue, but a matter of food fraud, which it takes very seriously. “It takes time for any fraud investigation of this type to go through the evidence and reach any conclusions, including any possible litigation,” Mr Quinn said. “We take food fraud very seriously and are acting urgently to protect the consumer.”
A spokesperson for Booths confirmed to the Mirror that they have been “working closely and cooperatively” with the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) since becoming aware of potential food fraud issues in 2021. He added: “The booths are clearly not under scrutiny by the NFCU.”
“It is also important to note that the NFCU investigation relates to a potentially serious food fraud incident, not a food safety issue.” The spokesman said: “It is important that the NFCU is able to complete its investigation in an objective and fair manner.
“NFCU has full support of Booths and to this effect, Booths will not be commenting further at this stage, any further inquiries relating to this matter should be directed to NFCU.”