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July 22, 2020 News
320 tonnes of potentially dangerous dairy products taken off the market in Operation OPSON IX
The EUIPO has supported Operation Opson IX, coordinated by Europol and INTERPOL, which targeted trafficking of counterfeit and substandard food and beverages.
The operation ran from December 2019 to June 2020 and involved law enforcement authorities from 83 countries. It was also supported by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the European Commission, national food regulatory authorities and private sector partners. This is the ninth consecutive year that this operation has taken place.
This year’s operation led to the dismantling of 19 organised crime groups involved in food fraud and the arrests of 406 suspects. More than 26 000 checks were performed.
As a result, about 12 000 tonnes of illegal and potentially harmful products worth about €28 million were seized, including 320 tonnes of smuggled or substandard dairy products in Bulgaria, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland. National authorities seized rotten milk and cheese which posed a threat to consumer health. Additionally, 210 tonnes of cheese were seized, which did not meet the conditions to be labelled with a protected geographic denomination.
With more than 5 000 tonnes seized, animal food was the most seized product, followed by alcoholic beverages (more than 2 000 tonnes), cereals, grains and derived products, coffee and tea and condiments.
Counterfeit and substandard food and beverages can be found on the shelves in shops around the world. The increasing online sale of such potentially dangerous products poses a significant threat to public health.
Europol’s Intellectual Property Crime Coordinated Coalition (IPC3) coordinated OPSON IX together with INTERPOL, facilitated the information exchange and provided technical and analytical support to the participating countries. Europol’s IPC3 is co-funded by the EUIPO, through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property rights, to combat intellectual property crime. Since its creation, the total seizures of illegal food and beverages made during operations OPSON VI, VII, VIII and IX are worth around €450 million.