On 21 June, Europol/INTERPOL published the results of the OPSON VIII operation to which the EU Food Fraud Network contributed in order to detect fraudulent actions in the organic sector. Justice, police, customs and food experts have been mobilised to investigate and to ensure the success of this operation for which 16 Member States volunteered to participate. The action focused on complex international supply chains and aimed to identify their vulnerable points It also investigated suspicions of fraud, targeted false certification, concentrated on food and feed in significant quantities, mostly imported, destined for redistribution under EU organic label. Though no health issues were identified, the action led to a number of administrative and criminal proceedings and the seizing of products. The Commission took the lead of the action on organic products by providing to the participants intelligence elaborated on in depth analysis of available data, supporting the national actions (e.g. statistics risk based operators, countries or control bodies) conducted by the participating countries and coordinating investigations with Europol and INTERPOL.
Action #1 targeting organic products
Participating countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Finland, France, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia, UK
For the first time, this year’s operation looked at organic food products and the growing trend of products falsely claiming to be organic in order to be sold at higher prices.
A targeted action led by the EU Commission with the support of Europol was run across 16 EU Member States to detect fraudulent practices pertaining to this field. More than 90 000 tonnes of suspicious organic products were checked, after which 9 individuals were arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil (SEPRONA).
The illicit practices uncovered include the use of unauthorized substances, the diversion of conventionally produced food to the organic market and the use of falsified documents to blur the traceability of the products.
Read more about this case here: https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food-fraud/coord-act_en