LYON: Police in 78 countries have arrested 672 people as part of a coordinated global crackdown on potentially dangerous counterfeit food and drink, international police agency Interpol announced Friday (Jun 21).
Packets of cheese and chicken on which the sell-by dates had been tampered with, meat that had been stored in unsanitary conditions and drinks containing dangerous substances were among the goods seized in raids on shops, markets and during transport checks.
In Zimbabwe, the authorities seized nearly 14,000 litres of soft drinks containing high levels of the active ingredient in drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, which could be life-threatening for unsuspecting consumers, it said.
Bootleg liquor accounted for a large part of the haul. In Russia, an underground vodka factory was shut down and 4,200 litres of counterfeit alcohol seized.
In Eritrea, authorities arrested members of a syndicate that had been selling counterfeit honey.
In other countries raids targeted goods that had been fraudulently labelled organic.
The goods seized in the operation, which was carried out between December 2018 and April 2019 and coordinated by France-based Interpol and EU sister agency Europol, were worth over 117 million dollars, Interpol said in a statement sent to AFP.
In all, some 16,000 tonnes of food and 33 million litres of drinks were withdrawn from sale, the statement added.
"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.
The operation also netted 6.1 million dollars in counterfeit or illicit drugs, cosmetics, soap, toothpaste, medical equipment, clothes, watches and sunglasses.