“Police in South Korea arrested a man smuggling dietary supplements which were being sold online as natural product but in fact contained harmful ingredients,” Europol said in a statement.
“The sale of these fake weight loss products are estimated to have generated some USD 170,000 (€150,000) over a 10-month period.”
The agencies did not detail the products nor the harmful substances at this stage.
In wide-ranging busts between November 2015 and February this year ‘Operation Opson V’ confiscated, “More than 10,000 tonnes and one million litres of hazardous fake food and drink…”.
This included fertiliser-contaminated sugar in Sudan; copper sulphate-painted olives in Italy; counterfeit alcohol in Greece, Burundi and the UK; monkey meat in Belgium; contaminated honey in Australia and illegally imported locusts and caterpillars in France.
“Today’s rising food prices and the global nature of the food chain offer the opportunity for criminals to sell counterfeit and substandard food in a multi-billion criminal industry which can pose serious potential health risks to unsuspecting customers,” said Chris Vansteenkiste, cluster manager of the Intellectual Property Crime Team at Europol.
“The complexity and scale of this fraud means cooperation needs to happen across borders with a multi-agency approach.”
Operation Opson mark 1 launched in 2011, and involved 10 countries.