Olive oil featured heavily in a range of operations conducted in recent months by authorities in Portugal that also covered game meat, shellfish and supplements.

Earlier this month, the Food and Economic Safety Authority (ASAE) inspected 100 operators dedicated to the trade of meat products. It assessed the facilities’ origin, labeling, storage, and hygiene. Nineteen administrative proceedings were opened, and around 22 kilograms (48.5 pounds) of beef and cheese were seized.

In November, ASAE’s southern unit inspected a company in Beja that stored and handled game meat such as wild boar and deer. Officials found meat activities were conducted without the knowledge and approval of authorities, as the location was only registered as a fruit warehouse.

The control resulted in an administrative action because of poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions. Fifty carcasses of wild boar and deer meat were seized, which, after expert assessment, was destroyed.

Olive oil fraud
Another operation targeting the olive oil supply chain involved inspecting 150 firms. It resulted in eight criminal cases for incorrect use of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) claims. Also, 15 administrative proceedings were opened for non-compliance with labeling rules and a lack of information for consumers.

Officers seized 12,000 liters of olive oil, 3,850 liters of other oils, food seasonings, spices, and more than 105,000 labels with an estimated value of about €73,000 ($80,000).

An earlier control featuring ASAE’s northern unit led to officials uncovering 4,300 liters of olive pomace oil sold as extra virgin olive oil.

A criminal case was started for fraud on goods and illegally using a PDO name. Authorities found pomace oil was purchased from another country, packaged in 5-liter bottles, and labeled as extra virgin for sale on the national market.

As part of inspections to combat food fraud in the olive oil sector, a previous operation revealed the sale of cooking oil as extra virgin olive oil in the Beja area. A criminal case was opened after the seizure of 415 liters of cooking oil, valued at almost €1,500 ($1,600).

ASAE said the scarcity of olive oil and the increase in its price contributed to a potentially more significant risk of fraudulent practices associated with the product. The agency reinforced monitoring and surveillance of the sector, including verifying the origin of olives that enter the mills and the packaging process, distribution, and availability to the final consumer.

Shellfish and supplement inspections
In October, authorities uncovered an illegal bivalve shellfish purification plant and cold storage unit and seized 1.4 tons of products.

ASAE’s southern unit discovered the plant for live bivalve mollusks and the unlicensed cold store that supplied the Grândola region. One person was arrested, three administrative proceedings were filed, and operations at the site were suspended. The confiscated mollusks and fish had an estimated value of more than €16,000 ($17,500).

In September, a regional ASAE team operated in Sintra, targeting unauthorized ingredients or substances in supplements.

A criminal case was opened due to the addition of an unauthorized substance to a food supplement. Overall, 3,072 packages of supplements were seized, with a total value of more than €28,000 ($30,700).

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