Call for food terrorism to be on National Risk Register

The UK’s Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) has called for food terrorism to be included on the country’s recently updated National Risk Register.

According to AIMS, the government has stated that it has plans to build resilience to specific risks, including those detailed in the National Risk Register, which involve all areas of the food industry. By default, this includes the entire meat and poultry chain. However, it does not cover food terrorism, which AIMS says is a major oversight. 

 “We are surprised not to see Food Terrorism included on the risk register,” said AIMS spokesman Tony Goodger.

“By this we don’t mean low level criminality whereby a disgruntled employee contaminates a production run but more where politically or ideologically driven terrorists contaminate the production of food products… purchased daily by consumers.”

He confirmed that AIMS welcomes food and agriculture being seen as a vital part of the UK’s infrastructure: “In the three years since the last National Risk Register was published the UK has faced the Covid-19 pandemic, the fallout from the war in Ukraine as well as emerging technologies such as AI and more sophisticated criminal activity such as breaches in cyber security. These all leave parts of the country’s critical national infrastructure under threat.

“With agriculture and food production part of the critical national infrastructure we welcome the Risk Register and it’s highlighting of the impacts of animal disease and possible outbreaks of foot and mouth disease and African Swine Fever.”

The UK is not the only country where the issue of food terrorism is making the headlines. A sushi chain in Japan is seeking ¥67m (£383,280) in damages from a diner who earlier this year filmed himself licking a soy sauce bottle and wiping saliva on a slice of fish at one of its restaurants, part of a wave of so-called ‘sushi terrorism’ that has rocked the country’s budget food industry.

Sushiro, Japan’s biggest operator of revolving sushi restaurants, filed the suit with a court in Osaka, arguing that it had suffered financial losses after the incident triggered public fears over food hygiene.

The teenager, who has not been named, allegedly licked the soy sauce bottle and the rim of a teacup before placing it back on a shelf, then wiped saliva on a plate of passing sushi destined for other diners, during a visit to a Sushiro outlet in January.

A video of the incident filmed by a second person went viral, forcing restaurant chains to take drastic measures to reassure nervous customers. 

The teenager has admitted licking communal items and expressed remorse for his actions.

His lawyers have said that he did not intend for the video to be posted online, adding that fierce competition in the budget sushi sector – worth an estimated ¥740bn – meant it was impossible to blame the drop in Sushiro customers on his actions.