The annual operation coordinated by Europol and INTERPOL is supported by customs, police and national food regulatory bodies in addition to partners from the private sector. Since its first edition in 2011, the number of countries taking part in OPSON has grown every year, reflecting the growing commitment to tackle this issue. Figures from the latest haul in the joint Europol-INTERPOL investigation into counterfeit and substandard food has revealed how prevalent crime remains within the worldwide food system. Run over the course of four months (December 2017 – March 2018) across 67 countries, OPSON VII resulted in the total seizure of more than 3,620 tonnes and 9.7 million litres of either counterfeit or substandard food and beverages as a result of over 41 000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates. In total, some 749 people were arrested or detained with investigations continuing in many countries.
In Europe, the close cooperation established between Europol and the EU Commission coordinating the EU Food Fraud Network led to the implementation of a specific project targeting the fraudulent trade of tuna. A comprehensive approach involving all stakeholders allowed the phenomenon to be tackled in an innovative and more effective manner via the simultaneous use of administrative and criminal enforcement tools. Europol will continue to support this multiagency approach in the upcoming editions of OPSON.
Other case studies investigated were: the sale of rotten meat in Belgium, fake baby milk powder in Spain, smuggling of perishable goods in France.
Read the Europol Press Release at: Opson VII April Results
Read the European Commission's Note on the Tuna Investigation