Organized crime has gotten heavily invested in the foodservice industry, much to the annoyance of European police charged with tracking fake and substandard food production. According to an announcement this week from Europol, the European police coordination body has already seized more than a thousand tons of counterfeit food across 33 countries in a joint operation with Interpol.
According to The Local, the latest sting resulted in the seizure of 131,000 liters of fake or substandard oil and vinegar, 80,000 cookies and chocolate bars, 22 tons of spices and condiments, 205 tons of cereal, and 42 liters of honey.
In many cases the food was not even slightly what it was alleged to be. Police in Sweden found “honey” that was actually just corn syrup mixed with honey scent.
Europol says it has confiscated more than 1,000 tons of fake food and nearly 430,000 liters of knockoff beverages. In Italy, organized crime was found to be making fake champagne. Criminals in Paris were caught running an illicit slaughterhouse, while police in Spain found five tons of snails that had been illegally taken from forests to be sold as food.
"Most people would be surprised at the everyday food and drink which are being counterfeited, and the volume of seizures shows that this is a serious global problem," said Michael Ellis, head of Interpol's Trafficking in Illicit Goods and Counterfeiting unit.