You Might Be Drinking Fake Booze And Eating Monkey Meat, According To Interpol

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An organized crime network. A multi-billion dollar industry. Thousands of tons of illegal substances seized across 57 countries. Nope, we’re not talking about drugs. We’re talking about counterfeit food, and the largest Interpol operation ever to seize over 10,000 tons of it.

On Thursday, Interpol released a statement detailing the results of what they called Operation Opson V. In a coordinated effort with Europol, literal tons of fake, tainted food were seized. And almost every major country is guilty.

In Greece, they discovered three entire factories solely dedicated to the production of fake liquor, which, according to the Drinkaware Chief Medical Advisor Paul Wallace, can contain “chemicals used in cleaning fluids, nail polish remover and automobile screen wash, as well as methanol and isopropanol which are used in antifreeze and some fuels.” These are substances that could make you feel tipsy, but could also poison you. Similar “fake booze” operations were also found in the UK and Burundi.

In Italy, 85 tons of tainted olives were seized–olives that had been painted with copper sulphate to enhance their color. It’s not the first Italian scandal about fake olives. The local police force was kind enough to release footage of the seizure:

The list goes on. Interpol found sugar tainted with fertilizer in Sudan, peanuts labeled as pine nuts in Australia (a major food allergy risk), duck meat labeled as foie gras in Hungary, chicken intestines preserved with a dangerous chemical called formalin in Indonesia, and counterfeit examples of chocolate and other sweets aimed toward children in Italy, Lithuania, and Romania.

Oh, and if you’re a meat eater? During Operation Opson V, meat “unfit for human consumption” en route to your local grocery store was seized by Interpol, as well. They found tilapia, sardines, buffalo meat, monkey meat, and locusts that were way below food standards or mislabeled as another type of meat.

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All of this comes two days after we’ve discovered much of our coffee is fake, as well. Because we can’t have anything nice.

This is the fifth of Interpol’s counterfeit food operations, with the first one being launched in 2011. The continuing prevalence of the fake food industry is likely due to a worldwide price increase in sugar, fish, and more.

According to the statement released by Interpol, most of the fake food was seized at airports, seaports, factories, and food markets — or you know, basically anywhere that you can buy food as a human being.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, we’re dealing with our own food problems. Inside Edition did some investigating on the lobster at restaurants and found that one-third of the lobster dishes they tested didn’t even contain real lobster, but a cheaper substitute like white fish.

So the counterfeit food industry is truly a worldwide phenomenon. Maybe Russian president Vladimir Putin isn’t entirely crazy for hiring a full-time food taster after all.

(Via Eater)