Tea is becoming a more and more popular target for fraudsters due to growing demand, complex supply chains, supply issues due to crop failure, sustainability problems, and underdeveloped analytical methods. Professor Chris Elliott (Director of the Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast) and his team are developing an analytical method based on chemical fingerprinting to determine fraud. Tea fraud can show as mislabeling of the geographical origins or type of a tea, or the addition of sometimes hazardous bulking agents like pigments or gypsum.
The ninth OPSON operation, a cooperation between Europol and Interpol, included 83 countries around the world. OPSON IX targeted organized crime groups involved in food and beverage fraud. The substandard and fraudulent products potentially pose significant risk for consumers. Animal feed and alcoholic beverages made the top of the list of seized products, followed by grains, coffee and tea, and condiments. The officials also ran special campaigns to uncover fraudulent dairy products, olive oil and horsemeat.
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