Food Standards Scotland (FSS) proved critical in battling a major EUR200 million scam that involved sales of fake tuna. The operation against the mis-sold tuna took place just days after the Food Standards Agency said one in five British meat products tested positive for meant not on the label after their inspectors found ham slices containing no ham and lamb doners with no lamb.
In the tuna scam, the fish was illegally treated with vegetable extracts containing a high concentration of nitrates to alter the color and give the impression of freshness. This can represent a severe risk to public health.
The ongoing Operation Opson involved the police, customs, and food experts across 11 countries. In Scotland, environmental health officers were mobilized to take samples of tuna nationwide.
Samples were taken from fishing vessels, and processing plants across Europe resulted in 51 tons of frozen tuna being seized, mainly in Spain, where a criminal investigation was launched.
Interpol and Europol are among the international law enforcement agencies collaboration to target fraudsters in a bid to halt the rise of illicit, counterfeit, and sub-standard food.
In 2018, more than 3,620 tons and 9.7 million liters of either fake or sub-standard food and drink were seized as a result of more than 41,000 checks carried out at shops, markets, airports, seaports, and industrial estates. About 750 people were arrested or destined with the investigation continuing in many countries.