Booths is the UK grocer linked to possible food fraud centred on pre-packed meat, the retailer has confirmed.

The UK’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) is investigating allegations of meat sourced in South America and Europe being labelled as British and supplied to an unnamed customer in the country.

The NFCU had not named the retailer concerned but Booths, the privately-owned grocer with 27 stores, said it had removed the products concerned and stopped trading with the manufacturer when it was informed of the claims.

In a statement, Booths, a retailer centred on north-west England, said it is “categorically not under investigation by the NFCU”.

The company added: “Booths’ support for the investigation relates to a limited selection of cooked meat products and Booths have no knowledge of any other aspects of the investigation. At the point of being made aware of the potential issues in 2021, Booths acted instantly, removing all relevant products from sale and ceased trading with the supplier with immediate effect. 

“Booths would like to confirm that fresh meat, poultry and game products are entirely unaffected by this investigation and that with the exception of the limited selection of cooked meat products impacted in 2021 Booths is absolutely confident in its British-only meat commitment. It is also important to note that whilst the NFCU investigation relates to a potential serious food fraud incident, this is not a food safety issue.”

In a statement sent to Just Food, Andrew Quinn, the NFCU’s deputy head, said: “The FSA’s National Food Crime Unit is investigating how one UK retailer was supplied with pre-packed sliced meat and deli products labelled as British when they were in fact sourced from South America and Europe.

“The retailer was notified on the same day that we took action against the food business suspected of the fraud and immediately removed all affected products from their shelves. The retailer continues to work closely and cooperatively with the NFCU investigation to progress the case against the supplier. This is not a food safety issue but a matter of food fraud.”