Monday 1 March 2021
Home EU Europol tackles fraud and smuggling of horse meat and dairy products

Europol tackles fraud and smuggling of horse meat and dairy products

In a joint operation between Interpol and Europol on fraud in the dairy and meat trade and on dangerous medical products, more than 12,000 tons of goods have been seized so far and more than 400 fraudsters and criminals have been arrested.

Across Europe, batches of suspected horse meat and apparently falsified horse passports have been seized in a number of slaughterhouses throughout the EU, including the Netherlands, in recent months.

Horsemeat fraud calls Europol a "dangerous criminal trend." That is why the investigative services devoted a separate project to this within the international OPSON operation. The Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland were the leaders with the support of the European Commission. Documents from more than 157,000 horses from eight countries and approximately 117 tons of horse meat were checked.

As a result, more than 17 tons of horse meat was seized from various slaughterhouses in Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Inspections of slaughterhouses in several countries showed that about 20% of the foreign passports used for these horses showed signs of counterfeiting.

In collaboration with (food) authorities from 83 countries, European authorities and private parties, Europol and Interpol carried out 26,000 checks to detect food fraud. This resulted in the seizure of 12,000 tons of illegal and harmful foods worth € 28 million.

Almost half of the confiscated products, 5,000 tons, were animal products (dairy and meat), followed by alcoholic beverages, in particular wine (2,000 tons), cereal products, derivatives such as olive oil, coffee, tea and spices.

The development that more and more people buy products, including food products, online is a risk. It may contain potentially dangerous foods, according to Europol and Interpol. The corona pandemic can also cause more and more low-quality foods to come into circulation, the investigation services warn. This is also apparent from a report published by Europol in April.

The investigation also led to the discovery of 320 tons of smuggled and low-quality dairy products. National authorities also seized spoiled milk and cheese that posed a public health hazard. A Bulgarian study in an unregistered repository revealed seven positive samples for starch and E. coli. The Bulgarians detected 3.6 tons of unsafe dairy products intended for processing in processed cheese.

Under the leadership of Greece, a number of countries detected 149 tons of olive oil that had been fiddled with. 88 tons were intercepted in Albania, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain. At a company in Italy discovered that not all olive oil produced was on the company's books. This resulted in the seizure of 66 tons of olive oil.


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