Crackdown results in seizure of 15,000 tons of illegal foodstuffs

More than 15,000 tons of food and drink worth $60 million has been seized globally in operations targeting fake and potentially dangerous products.

Operation Opson X involved 72 countries between December 2020 and June 2021. The annual drive is coordinated by Interpol and Europol and featured police, customs, national food regulatory authorities and private sector companies.

In total, 15,451 tons of illegal products were found with an estimated street value of €53.8 million ($63.3 million). Nearly 68,000 checks were carried out by participating countries, resulting in 1,000 criminal cases being opened.

The top seized goods by quantity were alcohol and food supplements, followed by cereals and grain products and fruit and vegetables. Alcoholic drinks were the most commonly counterfeited.

In Operation Opson in 2020, 77 countries took part and about 12,000 tons of illegal items were confiscated. Animal food was the most seized product followed by alcoholic beverages.

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Ben & Jerry’s Will No Longer Be Sold in Israel-Occupied Palestinian Territories

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“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” read a company statement

After facing public pushback, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has announced it will no longer be selling its ice cream in Israel-occupied Palestinian territories. “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT),” the company said in a statement. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.” The company said it has declined to renew its licensing agreement, which expires at the end of next year, with its distributor in the region.

With the recent 11-day war between Israel and Palestine resulting in over 250 mostly-Palestinian casualties and thousands of Palestinians being displaced from their homes, many have turned their … Read more

Oysters recalled amid Washington’s largest ever Vibrio outbreak

Washington state has initiated a recall of live oysters harvested from the Samish Bay growing area in the Puget Sound area. The recall is in response to multiple cases of Vibrio parahaemolyticus illnesses associated with oysters harvested in the area. 

The outbreak has already surpassed the highest number of cases ever recorded by the state for the month of July, according to the state’s Health Department. Distribution details are incomplete but it is known that some of the oysters have gone to Asian and Canadian buyers as well as customers in the United States.

A recent heat wave, coupled with very low tides at mid-day, are likely to blame for the increased rate of illness, which is associated with eating raw or undercooked shellfish, especially oysters that are contaminated with Vibrio. 

The extremely low tides are part of an 18.6-year tide cycle, which means there will be more to come … Read more

Searching for Meaning in Nicolas Cage’s Truffle Flick, ‘Pig’

Courtesy of Neon

The Michael Sarnoski film about a former chef searching for his truffle-hunting pig is tonally inconsistent and narratively incoherent

The only thing shaved in Pig — which I’d call a Nicolas Cage vehicle, but vehicle to where? — are the black truffles buried deep in the Oregonian forest. Everyone else is hirsute; everything else hairy. This includes Rob, who we first meet munching dirt and slowly scampering through the forest. Played by Cage as a series of grunts and a beard, Robin Feld is a former hotshot Portland chef who, after a personal tragedy, takes to the woods to, with the help of an adorable pig (uncredited), eke out a living by hunting leucangium carthusianum, better known as Oregon black truffles.

When his pig is stolen in the dead of night with a squall of squeals (pig) and murmurs (thieves), the gears of the movie start … Read more

Ethylene oxide scandal spreads to food additive

European countries are facing more ethylene oxide related recalls after the substance was detected in a food additive used in a range of products.

Belgium first raised the alarm in September 2020 about ethylene oxide in products from India with sesame seeds. These related recalls are still continuing with thousands of conventional and organic items with long shelf life dates such as cereals, chocolate, biscuits, bread, crackers, spices and bagels affected.

The substance was used to reduce or eliminate microbiological contamination with Salmonella. The use of ethylene oxide for disinfection of food is not permitted in Europe.

Expanded problem
Ethylene oxide was also recently found in the additive locust bean gum, which is mainly a thickening agent or stabilizer. It is used in foods including ice cream, breakfast cereals, meat products, confectionery, fermented milk products and cheese.

Another recalled product in France

The European Commission held three meetings with food … Read more