Toxic stew: Police seize fake food, drink

2017-04-25 22:04
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The Hague - Forget fake news. European police have joined forces to seize almost 10 000 tons of fake and harmful food and drink, from caviar to cashews, booze to bubbly water and even unassuming stock cubes.

Europol and Interpol said counterfeit goods, which could have been potentially harmful worth about €230m had been impounded during a four-month operation involving 61 countries.  More than 26 millions litres of beverages were among the goods seized.

Posed danger

In total 13 million items were seized and 13 people arrested during 50 000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates from December 1 to March 31 in the sixth such annual operation, a joint statement said.

During the operation dubbed OPSON VI, German police cracked down on undeclared peanuts, cashew nuts and almonds mixed into imported hazelnut spreads and not labelled, which could have posed danger for people with allergies.

"This operation has once again shown that criminals will fake any type of food and drink with no thought to the human cost as long as they make a profit," said Interpol co-ordinator Francoise Dorcier.

In France, police seized 179 000 counterfeit seasoning stock cubes posing as a famous brand, the two agencies said. It was not clear if they were the Maggi brand, so beloved in French households.

And in Tuscany, Italian police swooped on an organised group producing counterfeit red wine in a Tuscan farmhouse. In a new trend and in a separate operation, they also flushed out 31 000 bottles of mineral water, imitating a registered brand.

Human consumption

Investigations took a fishy turn in Portugal, where in a warehouse in Porto thousands of cans almost expired sardines in tomato sauce were uncovered. Some 311 000 cans were seized along with 9 900 packing boxes and the business was immediately shut down.

About 530kg of dodgy clams "unfit for human consumption" were also found in Spain, while in Denmark investigators uncovered several samples of supposed virgin olive oil which did not live up to their labelling.

More than 1 300 litres of vodka and whisky were seized at two illegal sites in Greece and a large quantity of unrefrigerated, unpacked and unlabelled meat was tracked down with alcohol and tobacco in Ireland.

Read more on:    interpol  |  europol  |  the netherlands  |  liquor

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