The wheels of justice turn slowly, but stomachs will churn rapidly over the toxic and counterfeit food products that police agencies have seized recently in 57 countries.
Care for an appetizer? How about 154 pounds of chicken intestines soaked in formalin, a prohibited food additive, that were seized in Indonesia
Or perhaps some Italian olives that were painted with copper sulfate solutions to make them look greener, or sugar that was cut with fertilizer in Sudan
? And don’t even ask about the illicit alcohol concocted in Greece
Criminals make millions of dollars a year peddling such products, and worse, to unwitting or reckless buyers, according to the international police agencies Interpol and Europol. Recent joint operations have netted about 11,000 tons of counterfeit and hazardous food and 264,000 gallons of bogus beverages, the agencies’ largest hauls to date.
“Fake and dangerous food and drink threaten the health and safety of people around the world, who are often unsuspectingly buying these potentially dangerous goods,” said Michael Ellis, who runs Interpol’s unit on trafficking in illicit goods and anti-counterfeiting measures.
, customs agents and police officers have discovered counterfeit chocolates, sweets and nonalcoholic sparkling wine that were headed to West Africa
Also as part of the global operation, the South Korean
police arrested a man who was smuggling dietary supplements that contained harmful ingredients but were advertised online as natural products.
False labeling is a persistent danger, Interpol said. In Australia
, a shipment of peanuts was repackaged and relabeled as pine nuts, posing a potentially deadly threat to people with serious groundnut allergies.
In another case, the police in Bolivia
raided a warehouse and seized thousands of cans of sardines and the fake labels of a famous Peruvian brand
that would have been affixed to them.
In another recent operation, the police in eastern China
raided two workshops that were producing fake jellyfish, which contained high levels of aluminum and chemicals, the BBC reported. Jellyfish is popular in parts of China, where it is sliced and served as part of a salad.