Operation Opson VIII, coordinated by INTERPOL and Europol with police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners in 78 countries took part in the five-month operation, which ran from December 2018 through April 2019. More than USD 117 million worth of potentially dangerous fake food and drink was seized in the 18.7 million items recovered in shops, markets and during transport checks, which also saw 672 individuals arrested worldwide.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 this operation.
There were three specific targetting case studies during this operation. Case 1 -targetting organic fraud 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).
Case 2 - 10 EU Member States took part in an action led by the UK targeting the sale of 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP), a toxic chemical which is sold as a fat burner (predominantly online). Consumption of DNP can have severe consequences for the health of consumers and has proven fatal in a number of instances.
Case 3 - run across 14 European countries in order to uncover possible fraudulent practices pertaining to coffee labelled as 100% Arabica. With the support of Europol and the EU Commission, this action focused on the substitution of pure Arabica coffee (coffee variety of the highest quality) by cheaper lowland coffee (Robusta). In total, nearly 400 coffee samples were analysed as part of this action.
Read the Europol Press Release