Operation OPSON, which saw police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners from 78 countries participate, has led to the seizure of more than €100m-worth of potentially dangerous food and drink.
More than 16,000 tonnes and 33m litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink was seized following more than 67,000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
Tampered expiry dates on cheese and chicken, controlled medicines added to drink products and meat stored in unsanitary conditions were some of the offences discovered during Operation OPSON.
“This operation shows yet again that criminals will take advantage of any and every opportunity open to them to make a profit. The volume of the seizures confirms that food fraud affects all types of products, and all regions of the world,” said Jari Liukku, head of Europol’s European Serious and Organised Crime Centre. “It is hurting the consumers’ wallets: in the best cases, food fraud is the deception of consumers, whereby they pay for something they do not get, but in the worst cases, food fraud can result in serious harm to the public’s health. It is the duty of Europol and law enforcement more generally to make sure that what consumers get on their plates is genuine and safe.”
“Counterfeit and substandard food and beverages can be found on the shelves in shops around the world, and their increasing sale online is exacerbating the threat that food crime poses to the public,” said Interpol’s director of organised and emerging crime Paul Stanfield. “Operation OPSON VIII saw a substantial amount of counterfeit food and drink taken out of circulation, but there is much more that can be done. Interpol calls for further efforts and better coordination at national, regional and international levels in order to stem this tide, which endangers the health of consumers worldwide.”