More than €100 million worth of potentially dangerous food and drinks was seized in the latest Operation OPSON, coordinated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition and INTERPOL. 672 individuals were arrested so far, with investigations ongoing in many countries.
Police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners across 78 countries took part in the five-month OPSON VIII operation which ran from December 2018 through April 2019.
In total, some 16,000 tonnes and 33 million litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink was seized as a result of more than 67,000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.
Targeting organic products
For the first time, this year’s operation looked at organic food products and the growing trend of products falsely claiming to be organic in order to be sold at higher prices.
A targeted action led by the EU Commission with the support of Europol was run across 16 EU Member States to detect fraudulent practices pertaining to this field. More than 90,000 tonnes of suspicious organic products were checked, after which 9 individuals were arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil (SEPRONA).
The illicit practices uncovered include the use of unauthorized substances, the diversion of conventionally produced food to the organic market and the use of falsified documents to blur the traceability of the products.