2020 Annual Food Fraud report: Fight against food fraud in Europe continued despite the COVID-19 pandemic
On 8 September 2021, the Commission has published the 2020 annual report of the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network (EU FFN) and the Administrative Assistance and Cooperation system for Food Fraud (AAC-FF).
The report presents the EU FFN activities, highlighting certain requests for cooperation and provides statistics from the AAC-FF – EU reporting tool managed by the Commission, which enables members of the network to exchange information on suspicious non-compliances and potential intentional violations of the EU agri-food chain legislation.
Figures presented in this report show a steady growth in the systems’ usage. In five years, the number of cases created per year has more than doubled, going from 157 in 2016 to 349 in 2020. The increased interaction between Member States within the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network has shown that fight against food fraud in Europe is tightening up. Sharing information on suspected cross-border fraud violations has proven to be essential in better identifying, investigating and protecting EU customers against illegal practices.
Having access to synoptic EU data on traceability and alerts, the Commission provides members of the network with intelligence, data analysis and coordinates activities to follow-up suspicious cases of cross-border fraud as well as requests investigations from the competent authorities of non-EU countries when the potential fraud relates to imports. As an example of an EU coordinated case, the report describes illegal trade of live bivalve molluscs. Following an increasing number of notifications reported in iRASFF over the last three years, the network continued looking into this problem. What started as a foodborne outbreak in 2018 in Spain, caused by the consumption of contaminated clams that were suspected to be harvested in non authorised areas, proved to be a widespread issue involving recurrent operators using similar patterns in other EU countries.
The EU FFN also works with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in joint actions targeting counterfeited foodstuff. In 2020, members of the network were also engaged in OPSON - a joint Europol/Interpol initiative targeting trafficking in fake and substandard food and beverages and operation LAKE, which focused on the trafficking of the protected European eel (Anguilla Anguilla) species.