Global crackdown on counterfeit food & beverages – Times Now

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Authorities carrying out searches during Opson 2020 operation.

Authorities carrying out searches during Opson 2020 operation.& 

Key Highlights

  • India was among 83 countries which participated in six month long operation codenamed Opson 2020
  • 12,000 tonnes of harmful products seized and destroyed
  • Covid-19 saw criminals selling spurious food and beverages on e-commerce site

Eighty-three countries including India participated in a six-month-long global operation to curb the growing menace of low quality and spurious food and beverages which has flooded the market.

The operation codenamed Opson 2020 was coordinated by Interpol and Europol and was launched last December.  

Reports with Interpol and other agencies had noted that fake eatables, dairy products and alcohol is being sold with impunity but also pose a health risk. 

With corona pandemic and subsequent lockdown, customers increasingly purchased food and beverages online. However, criminal gangs also used the same popular e-commerce sites to sell counterfeit products. 

“The infiltration of low-quality products into the supply chain, a development possibly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Europol in a statement. 

During the operation, 19 organised crime syndicates running food scam were busted and 406 individuals were arrested. 

“Counterfeit and substandard food is not only deceitful to consumers but can also pose a significant threat to their health,” Europol’s executive director Catherine De Bolle said. 

A whopping 12,000 tonnes of harmful products worth €28 million were seized. About 5,000 tonnes of animal food was confiscated, making it the most seized product followed by 2,000 tonnes of spurious liquor. Other seized product include cereals, grains, coffee, tea, spices and condiments. 

Law enforcing agencies seized approximately 97 kilograms of saffron in Spain and Belgium. The USA also busted a scam which involved raw apricot kernel seeds sold as a cure for cancer. 147 kilogram of apricot kernel seeds were seized. 

In Europe, 320 tonnes of smuggled and low standard dairy products were recovered. Participating countries included Bulgaria, Switzerland and France. Officials in Bulgaria tested seized 3.6 tonnes of cheese and found that it contained E.coli bacteria and starch. This cheese was to be processed into melted cheese. 

149 tonnes of olive oil was seized in an operation led by Greece. Over 1.2 million litres of alcohol were seized in a coordinated operation with the largest quantity being wine. In Norway, authorities seized 5,000 litres of vodka being smuggled in a trailer. 

Agencies also found a disturbing trend of the illegal slaughter of horses for the meat. “Live animals and more than 17 tonnes of horse meat were seized from several slaughterhouses in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the Netherland,” said Europol. 

Source: Thanks