The number of food and other fraud suspicions discussed by European countries increased in February.

Data comes from the second monthly report on potential, but not confirmed, fraud published by the European Commission. The listed non-compliances may trigger investigations by authorities in EU member states.

The report includes fraud suspicions of a cross-border nature shared between members of the Alert and Cooperation Network (ACN) and retrieved from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), Administrative Assistance and Cooperation Network (AAC) and the Agri-Food Fraud Network (FFN).

It covers food, animal feed, food-contact materials, animal welfare, plant protection products, and veterinary medicine.

In total, 104 out of 318 notices mentioned fruit and vegetables. Dietetic foods, supplements, and fortified foods were in second place with 31 alerts, followed by cereals and bakery products with 20 notices. Ethylene oxide was mentioned three times in Thailand, France, and India products.

The majority of issues were detected through border inspections or market controls. A few were based on whistleblower information, media monitoring, and consumer complaints. Twenty were raised during a company’s own check.

Fruit and vegetables were also the top product category discussed in January regarding fraud suspicions. A total of 111 out of 277 notices mentioned fruit and vegetables. Dietetic foods, supplements, and fortified foods were second, followed by cereals and bakery products.

Highlights from non-compliances
In February, a dozen alerts involved the United States. They included titanium dioxide in pastries, sunset yellow in snacks, L-theanine in energy drinks, and groundnuts and cakes for skipping border controls.

Product tampering cases included additives not compliant with EU maximum levels, such as sulfites in shrimp from Spain and Ecuador and ascorbic acid in tuna from Spain. Adulteration examples were other vegetable oils in olive oil, added sugar in acacia, honey, Robusta instead of Arabica coffee, the absence of venison in venison salami, and chicken in place of lamb and beef.

Record tampering incidents featured the presence of milk proteins in vegan chocolate and pork and poultry DNA in a veggie preparation. Traceability defects were also detected in shrimp from Ecuador due to repacking and changing the best-before date.

Other non-compliances included non-food grade oil diverted to food in Ukraine and salmon unfit for human consumption in Norway.

Many alerts were for ingredients not authorized in Europe—often in supplements and residues of pesticides not compliant with EU maximum levels—mostly in fruit and vegetables.

Several notices mentioned an unauthorized operator in China and pork, poultry, horse, and bovine DNA in snacks and noodles. Document fraud of plant health certificates in various fruit and vegetable products from Cambodia and Laos was also identified.

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