A European crackdown on fake food and drink has seen nearly 100 arrests and the seizure of 80,000 biscuits, it has been revealed.
More than 1,200 tonnes of fake or sub-standard food, and nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks were seized, with 96 people arrested in an operation across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe, including the UK, earlier this year.
Operation Opson, jointly run by Interpol and Europol, began in 2011 to tackle the criminal production and sale of counterfeit ‘protected food name’ products, such as Gorgonzola or Champagne.
Intellectual Property Minister, Lord Younger said: “Fake and sub-standard food poses a serious health risk to consumers and takes money away from legitimate producers and retailers. The UK will continue to share its expertise in the international fight against fake food and work with our partners to bring these unscrupulous criminal gangs to justice.
“Co-ordination was key to the success of Opson III, and the Intellectual Property Office played this vital role for the UK. Building on this, I will be hosting the 2014 Opson IV planning conference next month in London.”
Along with the biscuits, the operation discovered:
• more than 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar;
• more than 1,200 tonnes of fake or sub-standard food;
• nearly 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks;
• 20 tonnes of spices and condiments;
• 186 tonnes of cereals;
• 45 tonnes of dairy products and 42 litres of honey.
The UK’s Intellectual Property Office is the designated lead for coordinating the UK’s response to Opson and works closely with the UK Food Standards Agency.