Europol and Interpol raids net 10,000 tonnes of fake food

Opson V imagesAdulterated sugar, painted olives and mis-labelled monkey meat head a shocking list of food fraud incidents found in an international enforcement operation.

Raids in 57 countries - coordinated by Interpol and Europol - resulted in the seizure of 10,000 tonnes of hazardous food and a million litres of illicit drink in this year's Opson V campaign, around four times the amount seized last year.

Nine tonnes of counterfeit sugar contaminated with fertilizer were uncovered in Sudan, while Italian police intercepted 85 tonnes of olives that had been painted with copper sulphate solution to enhance their colour.

The operation involved police, customs, national food regulatory bodies and companies, with checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates between November 2015 and February 2016. A number of arrests were made during the operation and investigations are continuing.

There were numerous seizures of counterfeit alcoholic drinks. Three illicit factories producing fake alcohol were discovered in Greece, along with 7,400 bottles, labels, caps and empty bottles, while UK authorities recovered nearly 10,000 litres of fake or adulterated alcohol including wine, whisky and vodka.

In Burundi, more than 36,000 litres of illicit alcohol were seized in addition to nine Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition along with three grenades which were recovered during the operation.

Mislabelled and adulterated meat also featured prominently in this year's operation, with incidents involving substandard beef, buffalo meat and fish and illegal imports of monkey and locusts and caterpillars.

False labelling again proved to be a common thread for all types of foodstuffs around the world. For example, in Australia, testing of 450kg of honey revealed it had been blended or adulterated, while a consignment of peanuts had been repackaged and relabelled as pine nuts, posing a significant threat to allergy sufferers.

"Fake and dangerous food and drink threaten the health and safety of people around the world, who are often unsuspectingly buying these potentially dangerous goods," said Michael Ellis, head of Interpol's Trafficking in Illicit Goods unit which coordinated activities between the world police body's participating countries across the globe.

More details of the operation can be found here.

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