clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Monkey Meat, Fake Booze, and Tainted Olives Seized in International Food Fraud Bust

Authorities have confiscated more than 10,000 tons of illicit foods in recent months

Open Grid/Flickr

What do sugar spiked with fertilizer, olives painted with copper, and fake alcoholic beverages have in common? All are among the more than 10,000 tons of counterfeit and illicit foods that have been seized over the last several months in a massive initiative by Interpol and Europol, reports the Associated Press.

The seizures even had a special name: Operation Opson V, which spanned November 2015 to February 2016 and resulted in a number of arrests around the world as police and other regulatory bodies carried out investigations.

"Among the aims of the operation is to identify and disrupt the organized crime networks behind the trafficking in fake goods," a release from Interpol said. The investigations were carried out in 57 countries, including the UK, Greece, Thailand, and Indonesia.

Aside from the aforementioned fake liquor, tainted sugar, and painted olives, some of the stranger confiscated items included monkey meat, illegal buffalo meat, 11 kilos of locusts and 20 kilos of caterpillars, peanuts that were repackaged and relabeled as pricier pine nuts — obviously a major concern for those with dangerous food allergies — and chicken intestines preserved in formalin.

Concerns over fake or tainted products are ongoing as investigations into fake labels, tainted goods, and organized crime rings continue to make headlines. A recent episode of 60 Minutes exposed the Italian epidemic that is olive oil fraud, and scientists are working on ways to detect counterfeit coffee beans. Meanwhile, many restaurants in the U.S. have been busted subbing cheap fish for lobster.

Sign up for the Sign up for the Eater newsletter

The freshest news from the food world every day