Posts tagged 'inspectors'

OVER €100 MILLION WORTH OF FAKE FOOD AND DRINKS SEIZED IN LATEST EUROPOL-INTERPOL OPERATION

image1 0More than €100 million worth of potentially dangerous food and drinks was seized in the latest Operation OPSON, coordinated by Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Centre and INTERPOL. 672 individuals were arrested so far, with investigations ongoing in many countries.

Police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners across 78 countries* took part in the five-month OPSON VIII operation which ran from December 2018 through April 2019.

In total, some 16 000 tonnes and 33 million litres of potentially dangerous fake food and drink was seized as a result of more than 67 000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates.

Tampered expiry dates on cheese and chicken, controlled medicines added to drink products and meat stored in unsanitary conditions were some of the offenses discovered during the operation.

As in previous Opson operations, illicit alcohol was the most seized item, totaling over 33 000 metric tonnes, followed by cereals and grains (+/- 3 628 metric tonnes) and condiments (+/- 1 136 metric tonnes).

"This operation shows yet again that criminals will take advantage of any and every opportunity open to them to make a profit. The volume of the seizures confirms that food fraud affects all types of products, and all regions of the world", said Jari Liukku, Head of Europol’s European Serious and Organised Crime Centre. "It is hurting the consumers’ wallets: in the best of cases, food fraud is the deception of consumers, whereby they pay for something they do not get, but in the worst cases, food fraud can result in serious harm to the public’s health. It is the duty of Europol and law enforcement more generally to make sure that what consumers get in their plates is genuine and safe."

"Counterfeit and substandard food and beverages can be found on the shelves in shops around the world, and their increasing sale online is exacerbating the threat that food crime poses to the public," said INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crime, Paul Stanfield. "Operation Opson VIII saw a substantial amount of counterfeit food and drink taken out of circulation, but there is much more that can be done. INTERPOL calls for further efforts and better coordination at the national, regional and international levels in order to stem this tide which endangers the health of consumers worldwide".

The investigations run at the national level brought to light the fact that criminals will fake any type of food and drink with no thought to the human cost as long as they make a profit. In Lithuania, the customs seized some 335 000 counterfeit sweets packaged in a way to attract the attention of one of the most vulnerable consumer groups – children. In Italy, the NAS Carabinieri seized over 150 000 litres of tampered poor quality sunflower oil made to look like extra virgin oil by adding chlorophyll and beta-carotene to the finished product.

Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordination Centre, co-funded by the EUIPO, has been running this operation together with INTERPOL since 2011. A Europol mobile office was deployed in March 2019 for this operation in Hungary to support the local National Tax and Customs (NTCA) and National Food Chain Safety (NFCSO).

*OPSON VIII participating countries:
Albania, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo (Democratic Rep.), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Eritrea, eSwatini, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea Bissau, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mauritania, Moldova, Montenegro, Namibia, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

official controls  inspectors  foodsafety  europol  europe  EU

22-06-2019 12:Jun:nd
 

EU food safety system overstretched, say EU Auditors

Although the EU’s system for protecting consumers from chemical hazards in food is soundly based and respected worldwide, it is currently overstretched, according to a new report from the European Court of Auditors. The European Commission and the Member States do not have the capacity to implement the system fully, the auditors say.

EU food safety policy aims to guarantee a high level of protection for human life and health, and to protect EU citizens from three types of hazards in food: physical, biological and chemical. This audit concentrated on chemical hazards in food.

The auditors found that the EU food safety model commands respect worldwide, but that it is currently overstretched. The legal framework governing chemicals in food, feed, and plants and live animals remains a work in progress, they say, and has not yet been implemented to the level envisaged in EU laws governing food production. In addition, the European Food Safety Authority, which provides scientific advice to inform European policymaking, suffers backlogs in its work in connection with chemical hazards. This affects the proper functioning of parts of the system and the sustainability of the model as a whole.

“Food safety is a high priority for the EU; it affects all citizens and is closely linked to trade”, said Janusz Wojciechowski, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report. “But the current EU system faces a number of inconsistencies and challenges.”

Some Member States’ controls cover certain chemicals more frequently than others, and their legal frameworks are so extensive that public authorities find it difficult to fulfil all their responsibilities. Checks by public bodies can only ever make up a small proportion of all checks carried out, say the auditors, and the EU model can best remain credible if public- and private-sector control systems complement each other. However, synergies between the two have only just started to be explored.

The EU has limited the use of certain pesticides based on hazard criteria. Nevertheless, explain the auditors, residues of such pesticides may be tolerated in products imported into the EU if a risk assessment has shown that there is no risk to consumers.

The auditors also identified limitations in the control system as Member States face difficulties in determining the nature of enforcement action in cases of non‐compliance.

The auditors recommend that the European Commission should:

  • assess potential changes to the legislation governing chemical hazards in the light of the capacity to apply it consistently;
  • further encourage complementarity, so that Member State public authorities can rely more extensively on checks carried out by the private sector;
  • explain what action it will take on pesticide residues in food to maintain the same level of assurance for both EU produced and imported food while remaining compliant with WTO rules;
  • give Member States further guidance on the application of enforcement measures and enhance its procedures for monitoring compliance with EU food rules.

Special report 2/2019 “Chemical hazards in our food: EU food safety policy protects us but faces challenges” is available on the ECA website in 23 EU languages (report) .

official controls  inspectors  foodsafety  europe  EU

20-01-2019 21:Jan:th