2018 has seen some food horrors that have left the public shocked and food suppliers worried. From ingredient mislabelling deaths to food crime, here are some of the scandals that hit headlines this year:
Needles discovered in Australian strawberries
On the 24th of September, Australian consumers were warned to cut up strawberries following reports of a man swallowing a sewing needle hidden in one of the fruits. Further investigation discovered contaminated punnets in the original state, Queensland, and then in over 100 cases around the country. However, many of these are suspected to be copycat incidences.
Strawberry producers and distributors suffered at this peak production time with imports and sales dropping due to the scandal, and tonnes of fruit being dumped.
In response, the Australian government offered a reward of A$100,000 for information connected to the crime, and raised the maximum sentence for fruit tampering to 15 years in prison.
Expired meat on the menu
In February, an unannounced inspection of UK meat supplier Russell Hume revealed serious food hygiene violations, as well as issues with the correct use-by dates. The company supplied meat to many different restaurants and pub chains, as well as catering firms. An anonymous whistleblower also reported that the company sold imported meat in place of British meat.
As a result, Russell Hume entered into administration after being dropped by its customers with the loss of nearly 270 jobs. A further investigation into the meat sector found that other suppliers also had issues with use-by dates.
Unlabelled food ingredients lead to deaths
A review into food labelling laws is underway following the investigation into two deaths in the UK caused by unlabelled foods.
A food chain is at the centre of the scandal in which 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, and a second person passed away after consuming food from the chain that caused an allergic reaction. A subsequent investigation found that the sandwich Natasha had consumed contained sesame, which she was allergic to, but did not list the allergen information on the packaging.
The second person is reported to have died after eating an item that was supposed to be dairy-free but did in fact contain dairy ingredients. The food chain has stated that the yoghurt in the product was from a coconut milk brand that withdrew its affected products after the incident came to light.
Wine fraud haunts French rosé
Wine-lovers suffered a serious surprise as up to 4.6 million bottles of Spanish rosé were found to have been labelled as French and sold in different venues around France.
The investigation found that the labels regarding the wine origin were outright fraudulent, or disguised/hid the true country of origin labelling in a manner regarded as being intentionally deceptive.
Cheap wine from Spain has been a thorn in the side of French wine producers, and the revelations of fraud of this scale could lead to sanctions on Spanish imports.