Operation OPSON VIII

Since 2011, INTERPOL and EUROPOL have been co-ordinating an annual monitoring operation called OPSON.
The aim is to carry out checks to remove counterfeit or non-compliant foodstuffs from the market and to break up the criminal groups behind them.
These controls are carried out by the police, customs officers and national control bodies in retail, food markets, airports and ports.
The last OPSON VIII operation took place over five months between December 2018 and April 2019 and involved 78 countries.
Operation OPSON in figures :

  • 67,000 checks carried out
  • 16,000 tonnes and 33 million litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink seized worth more than €100 million
  • 672 people were arrested

Some of the frauds discovered :

  • Falsified expiration dates on cheese and chicken.
  • Drugs added to drinks
  • Meat stored in unsanitary conditions
  • Illicit production of alcohol
  • Sunflower oil designed to resemble extra virgin olive oil with the addition of chlorophyll and beta-carotene

Certain markets have been targeted, in particular; organic foods, 2,4-Dinitrophenol (a toxic chemical sold mainly online as a fat burner) and coffee.
90,000 tonnes of organic products were checked following the arrest of 9 people. They discovered the use of unauthorised substances, the sale of conventional products as organic and the use of falsified documents.
23 shipments of Dinitrophenol were seized, which was the equivalent to 50,000 capsules, and 75 online sales offers were removed.
400 samples of coffee labelled 100% Arabica were analysed in order to identify the substituting of pure Arabica coffee (high quality variety) with cheaper Robusta type coffee. The results have not yet been released.

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