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Global fake food raids score record results


The long-fought war against counterfeit food and drink has had some major wins this year, says Michael Jones


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strategically co-ordinated, intergovernmental operation targeting international counterfeiting gangs has resulted in the seizure of a vast haul of fake food and drink and nearly 100 arrests this year so far, according to the UK’s intellectual property minister, Lord Younger.


Speaking at the International IP Enforcement Summit in London on 11 June, Lord Younger praised the improved recent collaboration between nations in tackling the ongoing problem that continues to plague the food industry. “Fake and sub-standard food poses a serious health risk to consumers and takes money away from legitimate producers and retailers,” he said.


Operation Opson III was conducted throughout December 2013 and January 2014, but specific figures have only recently been released about the success of the raids.


The operation specifically targeted the organised crime networks behind the illicit trade in counterfeit and unregulated food and drink. It involved agencies, regulatory bodies and partners from the private sector, with checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports and


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private homes. More than 1,200 tonnes of fake or sub-standard food and almost 430,000 litres of counterfeit drinks were seized, with 96 people arrested in an operation across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe. Operation Opson, jointly run by Interpol and Europol, began in 2011 to target the criminal production and sale of counterfeit ‘protected food name’ products, such as Gorgonzola or Champagne. It is now an international project that regularly seizes hundreds of tonnes of fake and sub-standard food.


Sharing expertise


The key aims of Operation Opson are: the identification of the organised criminal networks behind the trafficking; development of practical co-operation between the involved law enforcement, food and drug agencies and private companies; and


to raise awareness of the dangers posed by counterfeit and sub-standard foods. Lord Younger was moved to applaud the operation’s unprecedented co-operation between national and international law enforcement agencies and the food industry. He said: “The


UK will continue to share its expertise in the international fight against fake food and work with our partners to bring these unscrupulous criminal gangs to justice.


“Co-ordination was key to the success of Opson III, and the Intellectual Property Office played this vital role for


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