Two Spanish agencies have examined the role of a company in the country as part of a fraud investigation in the Netherlands.

Officers from the Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil helped confirm that a business based in Valencia was involved in the food export fraud.

The operation, coordinated by Europol, is looking into crimes against public health, food fraud, against public finances and of false documentation.

The Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA-IOD) is probing document fraud involving exported meat from the country to Ghana.

Dutch authorities visited two businesses and two homes in late January. Seven people were arrested with one released after questioning. Dutch media named the company that was searched as Wegdam Food Link in the town of Haaksbergen.

Spanish company searched
NVWA-IOD officials said such fraud also poses a risk to food safety as changing documents would affect traceability efforts if there was a problem.

Searches also took place in Belgium and Spain. The National Police and Guardia Civil in Spain got involved after learning through Europol of the investigation and an exchange of information with Dutch officials.

The focus was on the export of meat from the Netherlands to Ghana. Chicken meat in the containers was declared as fish with official veterinary certificates and supporting documentation being falsified to get greater economic benefits by getting lower import duties in the country of destination.

Several international transport companies were also part of the counterfeiting via the transport of goods, according to the authorities.

A search at the headquarters of the Valencian company, alongside six others carried out in the Netherlands and Belgium, resulted in the seizure of numerous digital information and physical documentation potentially related to the fraud.

Orange operation
In another case, the Guardia Civil has seized 20 tons of oranges treated with an insecticide banned in Europe.

Picture: Guardia Civil

The citrus fruits came from Egypt and contained chlorpyrifos, which was banned for use in the food industry by the European Union in 2020.

Operation Hisnlukk in Alicante led to the investigation of seven people for alleged crimes against public health and falsifying documents.

Several fruit companies are suspected to be involved: one in Barcelona, where the batch was initially analyzed; one in Castellón; two in Valencia; one in Alicante and one in Murcia.

The oranges, which have been withdrawn from the market, were purchased in Barcelona by someone officials believe knew they had been treated with chlorpyrifos.

The importer, whose company was based in Alicante, told authorities that the oranges positive for chlorpyrifos in Barcelona had been sold to a company in Murcia, and later in Valencia, where it was assumed arrangements would be made to dispose of them.

However, based on information provided by health agencies, investigators found this was not the case. Those investigated had created invoices, purchase and sale receipts, and destruction documents to try to convince authorities that the oranges would be withdrawn from the market and destroyed instead of being sold.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)