illegal (4)

Thanks very much to one of our new Centres of Expertise GfL for bringing to our attention this German investigative TV show Frontal 21 addressing the very important topic of the use of illegal pesticides.

This is another example of where an authenticity issue can have a very direct effect on food safety. The consequences for nature and humans are incalculable. Nobody knows what these pesticides are made of, which and how much toxins they contain.

The Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety has already examined dozens of suspicious samples this year and discovered many counterfeit or unapproved pesticides. In the first half of the year alone, Europol has seized over 1,300 tons of illegal pesticides, a new record. The European police authority estimates the proportion of counterfeits in the total amount of all pesticides at 14 to 15 percent.

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In just a few weeks, from April 6 to June 6, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Seaport, intercepted 19,555 pounds of prohibited pork, chicken, beef and duck products arriving from China.

In the first five months of fiscal year 2020, the interception of prohibited meats from China at the LA/Long Beach Seaport has increased 70% compared with the same period the year before.

Most of the unmanifiested animal products were commingled in boxes of headphones, door locks, kitchenware, LCD tablets, trash bags, swim fins, cell phone covers, plastic cases and household goods in a clear attempt to smuggle the prohibited meats.

According to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, China is a country affected by African swine fever, classical swine fever, Newcastle disease, foot-and-mouth disease, highly pathogenic avian influenza and swine vesicular disease.

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3211761143?profile=RESIZE_710xThirty-three countries*, INTERPOL, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) joined forces in the Europol-coordinated operation Viribus for a massive crackdown on the trafficking of doping materials and counterfeit medicines. The operation, led by the Italian NAS Carabinieri and co-led by the Financial Unit of the Hellenic Police (Ελληνική Αστυνομία), is the largest action of this kind ever.

Overall results during the entire operation:

  • 3.8 million illicit doping substances and counterfeit medicines seized (seizures included doping substances, dietary supplements, medicines and sport and food supplements);
  • 17 organised groups dismantled;
  • 9 underground labs disrupted;
  • 234 suspects arrested;
  • 839 judicial cases opened;
  • Almost 1 000 individuals reported for the production, commerce or use of doping substances. 

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On 11 August, the environmental protection service of the Spanish civil guard SEPRONA announced the seizure of 45 tons of illegally treated tuna fish. Four people were investigated and face possible criminal penalties of up to four years in prison for endangering public health, as well as administrative sanctions. The investigation has so far uncovered three companies and three fishing vessels involved in the fraudulent scheme.

Investigators found that frozen tuna only suitable for canning had been illegally treated with substances that enhance the colour and then been diverted to the market to be sold as fresh fish. This treatment can pose a serious public health risk associated with allergic reactions to histamine.

The investigation was coordinated by EUROPOL under the OPSON VII operation, in collaboration with the European Commission and other Member States, which was previously reported on the Food Authenticity Network in May 2018.

Criminal investigations are ongoing.

For more information on this case including the European Commission's contribution and information on other successful outcomes for EU coordinated cases.

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