Commission Midday Express, 24 February 2012
A conference on food-related crime opens in Brussels on Monday 27 February. This two day event, organised as part of the European Commission's 'Better Training for Safer Food' programme, will gather representatives of food control authorities, police forces, judicial bodies and other stakeholders from across the EU.
The conference will be opened by European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud, Algirdas Šemeta and closed by European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli.
Sub-standard food products on the market could be the result of fraudulent practice or simply negligence whereas fraudulent practices are the likely basis where counterfeit food products are concerned. Organised crime concerning food is a relatively recent phenomenon. As illegal practices in the area of food increase, it is clear that more information is necessary to combat the problem. What is clear, however, is that illegal practices in the area of food are on the increase.
The magnitude of food-related crime has recently been demonstrated. The Europol-led 'Operation Opson' conducted between November and December 2011 led to the seizure of over 13 000 bottles of substandard olive oil, 30 tonnes of fake tomato sauce, around 77 000 kg of counterfeit cheese, some 12 000 bottles of substandard wine, five tonnes of substandard fish and seafood and nearly 30 000 counterfeit candy bars.
The conference aims to facilitate exchange of experience between competent authorities at Member State and European levels on existing legal and judicial instruments, and discuss possible improvements. It should also allow for exchange of good practice as well as discussion on the existing information networks and control and traceability procedures and their future reinforcement. This should lead to strengthened coordination between all actors and the identification and development of new strategies for combating food-related crime.
Finally, the conference should also help raise awareness of the problem of food-related crime amongst the general public, and encourage people to be vigilant when making purchases.
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