Purpose: Economically motivated food crimes are widespread, and it appears countries and consumers across the globe are affected. Foods targeted and ways of dealing with food crimes vary according to several factors, including the source and destination of the food; demand; availability (e.g. short growing season); price; environmental impacts, such as sustainability (e.g. seafood); likely consumers (e.g. babies); and regulatory controls. Internationally, several foods are well known to be commonly targeted by unscrupulous criminal groups, ultimately leaving unsuspecting consumers exposed economically and physiologically. The purpose of this paper is to understand the nature of food fraud and the criminals committing it. Design/methodology/approach: Building on a systematic search of international scholarly literature from a wide cross-section of disciplines, parliamentary documents and media articles relating to food crime, this paper cautions the vulnerabilities to food crimes in Australia from a criminological perspective. It draws on crime opportunity theory to explain the modus operandi of criminals engaging in food fraud. Findings: Inadequate testing regimes, unclear definitions and inadequate laws expose consumers and vulnerable industries to food crimes. With reference to uniquely Australian examples, this paper highlights exposure opportunities and concludes with lessons drawn internationally. Further research is underway to explore how these vulnerabilities can be resolved through closing regulatory gaps and the introduction of innovative technology. Originality/value: This paper usefully draws on trends in the literature and applies crime opportunity theory to understand how food fraud may present in Australia for everyday foods, as well as emerging and highly prized markets.