Latest Opson food fraud action zeroes in on honey

The tenth instalment of Operation Opson has seized a massive 15,451 tonnes of illegal and potentially hazardous food products worth an estimated €54m ($64m), including 51 tonnes of fraudulent honey.

Honey is a perennial target for food fraudsters, a scam that generally involves either non-compliance with an origin name resulting from mixing of honeys from several varieties, or the deliberate addition of an adulterating substance like high-fructose corn syrup or sugarcane syrup.

Opson X included a targeted action on the honey sector in Europe and the US, with enforcement agencies Europol and Interpol asking national authorities to perform checks on products in the supply chain to detect adulteration.

All told, 495 checks were made and found that 7 per cent of samples revealed evidence of adulteration with syrups.

"This activity affects the market, which becomes inundated with counterfeits that are priced much lower than the genuine product," said Europol in a statement.

"Consequently, beekeepers are forced to gradually lower the prices of genuine products. This can endanger their activities, leading them to decrease production as well as the bee populations that they maintain."

While there was plenty of evidence for honey fraud, top of the table when it came to fraudulent activity were alcoholic beverages, with 1.7m litres seized, mostly wine and vodka. There were cases of criminal gangs using colourants to change the perceived quality of the beverages.

Food supplements and additives, cereals and grains and fruits and vegetable were also prominent among the illicit goods revealed during 68,000 inspections. Spanish and Portuguese police also disrupted a trade in bivalve shellfish unfit for human consumption.

The authorities issued 663 arrest warrants as a result of the enforcement action, and disrupted 42 criminal networks.

"Removing such an enormous quantity of illegal and often dangerous products from the market is a concrete example of how international police cooperation is making the world a safer place," said Jürgen Stock, Interpol Secretary General.

"Food crime may not always seem like a top policing priority but operations like Opson X demonstrate the massive profits these products generate, which can then fund other organized crime activities," he added.

Related articles:

     Want our news sent directly to your inbox?

Yes please 2


Home  |  About us  |  Contact us  |  Advertise  |  Links  |  Partners  |  Privacy Policy  |   |  RSS feed   |  back to top