When one thinks of “high-risk” foods, what comes to mind are things like palm oil-laden cookies, trans fat-rich doughnuts, or high-sodium vehicles like corn chips seemingly manufactured to create arterial blockages. All of which are certainly high-risk in a certain respect, but cheese, well cheese is high risk in an entirely different sense of being high risk. Seemingly cheese has been labeled a “high risk food” not because of its high fat, or even sodium, content, but because cheese has become prime target for shoplifters worldwide. While a considerable amount of food is stolen around the globe every waking moment of the day, cheese tops the chart as the most stolen food in the world.
I am having a difficult time believing this, considering a wheel of cheese seems a rather cumbersome item to stuff down your pants or squirrel away in your purse, whereas chocolate is relatively compact, expensive, and perfectly proportioned for quick theft. Still somebody is moving the cheese out of the store without paying a dime for it, and the UK seems to have suffered greatly at the hands of cheese thieves. The U.K.’s Center For Retail Research, which surveyed 1,187 retailers representing more than 250,000 retail outlets across 43 countries, found that 4% of cheese went missing from store shelves, and with an annual increase of stolen retail food items by 6.6% since June 2010, you can be sure more and more cheese will be lifted in the years to come.
No word yet on whether these cheese thieves are part of an organized ring funneling ill-gotten goods to some underground syndicate (some theories put the blame on employees exploiting their easy access to cheese). Maybe they are just hungry cheese lovers, financially strapped, and unwilling to pay upwards of $17.99 per lb. for a cave aged Gruyere. Either way, cheese is disappearing and retailers, as well as producers, are paying dearly for it.