Counterfeit Foods

News and information about counterfeit food products and the sale of mislabeled foods. The data about various forms of food fraud and substandard foods are collected from public health officials, criminal justice reports and other public information sources.

Between January and July 2013, authorities in Ireland seized 840 liters of counterfeit alcohol across the country.

Officials state that most of the organized crime groups involved in the production of counterfeit alcohol also are invovled in cigarette smuggling.

Source:  “‘Unscrupulous pub owners’ selling dangerous counterfeit alcohol,” Journal, August 6, 2013.

In the first six months of 2013, authorities in Yemen seized and destroyed over 57 tons of counterfeit and expired foods, counterfeit cosmetics and counterfeit drugs. 581 cases of counterfeiting have been identified by law enforcement, with 522 cases being sent to the Prosecutors office.

Amongst the actions taken by officials were seizing  50,000 packs of chewing gum and shutting down 8 ice cream factories that were shut down due to lack safety standards and substandard ingredients.

In 2012, over 80 tons of counterfeit goods was seized and destroyed in Yemen.

Source: Ali Ibrahim Al-Moshki, “Over 57 tons of expired, counterfeit goods destroyed,” Yemen Times, July 8, 2013.

European Union police agency Europol reported that 28.6 percent of all counterfeit goods seized in 2011 consisted of counterfeit foods and counterfeit drugs. The portion of fake foods and medicines seized in 2011 was up from 14.5 percent in 2010.

Source:  Financial Times, “Crime Gangs Look to Clean Up as Europe’s Black Market Balloons,” CNBC, June 24, 2013.


Illegal honey factories in Bosnia and Herzegovina produce up to 1,000 tonnes of fake honey each year. The counterfeiters sell the counterfeit honey to producers for $6.50 (€5) per kilogram, according to the president of the Beekeepers Association.

Genuine honey costs up between $9.82 to $13 (€7.5 to €10) per kilo.

Worldwide, counterfeit foods creates up to $40 Billion in market losses.

Source:  Mladen Dragojlovic, “Counterfeit foods, other products threaten BiH market,” SE Times, June 21, 2013.

During a three month period in 2013, Chinese police arrested 904 people for “meat-related offenses . The individuals were arrested for passing of counterfeit meats as legitimate meat. One gang that was arrested make over $1 Million selling rat, fox and mink meat as mutton.

Between January and May 2013, authorities in China seized 20,000 tonnes of illegal and counterfeit foods and investigated 382 cases of meat-related crimes. Most of the cases involved the sale of toxic, diseased and counterfeit meats.

Source:  Jonathan Kaiman, “China arrests 900 in fake meat scandal,” Guardian, May 3, 2013.

A study by Oceana sampled over 1,200 various types of fish samples in nearly 700 retail outlets in the United States.

The study found that one-third of the fish samples were mislabeled.

Source:  Reuters, “Interpol targets illegal fishing, seafood fraud,” swissinfo, February 26, 2013.

In 2010, up to $1.4 Billion (1.1 Billion Euros) worth of counterfeit foods were sold in Italy, according to a think-tank based in the country. Counterfeited items included fake Parmesan cheese and spaghetti.

The total counterfeit goods market in Italy was worth $9 Billion in 2010, causing a loss of $2.2 Billion (1.7 Billion Euros) in tax revenue.

Source:  Antonella Ciancio, “”Fake in Italy” branches out into toothpaste, soaps-reports,” Reuters, October 22, 2012.

According to a study by the Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection Program at Michigan State University, the following food items were found to have been counterfeited.

The study analyzed its product database of counterfeit items, and found that 16 percent of counterfeit foods involved olive oil, 14 percent involved watered down milk, 7 percent was counterfeit honey, and 2 to 4 percent of the counterfeit items were fruit juices.

Worldwide, counterfeit foods create a $49 Billion market.

Source:  “Fake Food Trying To Make Its Way Into The U.S.,” CBS Miami, June 18, 2012.

Due to the role of organized crime in food production in Italy, a report has found that 80 percent of the olive oil produced in Italy and stamped with a “Made in Italy” logo was made with cheaper, lower quality oils from other countries.

(More Mafia News.)

Source:  Leslie Clarula Taylor, “Italian olive oil part of organized crime probe,” The Star, January 27, 2012.

Over the course of a one week joint operation conducted by Interpol-Europol, authorities seized the following substandard and counterfeit food items:

  • Over 13,000 bottles of substandard olive oil
  • Around 77,000 kilograms of counterfeit cheese
  • 5 tons of substandard fish and seafood
  • Over 12,000 bottles of substandard wine
  • 30 tons of counterfeit tomato sauce
  • Nearly 30,000 counterfeit candy bars

The ten countries that participated in the counterfeit food operation and where the seizures took place were Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Source: “Tonnes of Illicit Foods Seized across Europe, Bulgaria Too,” Sofia News Agency, December 7, 2011.