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OPSON VIII: The authorities investigate coffee scams

In this year's Operation OPSON VIII, co-ordinated by Europol and INTERPOL, thirteen European countries have joined forces to jointly investigate all coffee scams. In nine cases, in Arabica, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland found cheaper Robusta shepherds. This was announced today by the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) in Berlin, which coordinated the priority action. In Germany, Customs and Federal Office of Criminal Police participated in the operation, alongside the Food Control Authority in the Federal States.

During the six-week basic phase of the operation from early January to mid-February, food control bodies in Germany carried out a revision of over 1.5 tons of roasted, roasted and ground coffee. For 134 controls, coffee declared as 100% Arabica was tested on evidence of herb robustama. Carina has backed up the operation by rating and providing information on coffee imports.

In three cases (about 2% of tested samples) it was found that food monitoring was misleading. Some robust content ranged from about 7% to 100%. Arabicapflanze is more demanding in the cultivation of robust Robustapflanze. The processing of green coffee is also different. Arabica beans earn more than robusta beans. If beans are still visually distinct, precise determination becomes difficult when green coffee is poured and milled. To demonstrate the presence of Robust Coffee Beans, the samples were analyzed for the content of 16-O-methylcopherol. This ingredient is only included in Robusta coffee beans.

Investigations continue

In all three cases, the entrance was carried out at the roasting house. There is no evidence of participation of other entities in food business or raw materials that are scam. Food control tests continue to last. The case has already been handed over to the plaintiff. Counterfeiting cases were also discovered in Switzerland and Portugal. In six samples Arabica was replaced by robust bean. If all results are available, at European level will prepare the overall picture of the scope and structure of coffee fraud. Further monitoring can be carried out even after the OPSON VIII operation is completed.


For the first time this year's focal point was laboratory collaboration at the national and European level. This strengthens interagency cooperation in the field of analytics. Analytical issues play a key role in effectively combating food fraud. The Department of Chemical and Veterinary Inspection (CVUA) Karlsruhe provided laboratory facilities for determining the content of 16-O-methylfascofestol by NMR analysis (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy). These capacities can not be sought only by the German authorities, but by all the participating countries of the priority action. In addition, initiated by the BVL, another laboratory co-operation has emerged for "determining the origin". Coffee essence analysis is difficult. There is no clear reference material. Two German laboratory equipment manufacturers, as well as three German investigations offices, have analyzed 106 samples, whose source has spread to several continents and numerous states. The results of determining the origin are still in progress. First of all, we should use sample building and thus establish an analytical method.

In addition, a well-known coffee company has supported a Europe-wide campaign by providing authentic samples of authenticity-matching coffee samples. This was done at CVUA Karlsruhe, where no abnormalities were found.

Further focus on action

In addition to the BVL-co-ordinated campaign, two more special campaigns were conducted for OPSON for the first time. The European Commission has coordinated a priority action in the fight against organic food fraud involving 16 European countries. Several cases have been identified where conventional products are declared as ecologically. In the United Kingdom and nine other countries, fat content products containing DNP (2,4-dinitrophenol) have been followed. The products are trimmed as effective weight loss aid but the use of DNP can have fatal consequences.

Participants of OPSON VIII

Since 2011, Europol and INTERPOL have coordinated their action against food fraud in the OPSON world action. The overall objective of joint priority operations of OPSON is to build and strengthen inter-agency co-operation between food control bodies and consumer protection bodies with law enforcement agencies at national and international level. Around 77 countries with different research goals participated in OPSON VIII.

The BVL co-ordinated the central coffee cup campaign. Besides the initiators of co-operation at European level, the campaign was also attended by Germany, Switzerland and Denmark – Belgium, Croatia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Great Britain (Scotland), Slovenia and Cyprus.

German participation in OPSON VIII's ongoing operation was also co-ordinated by BVL. Food control bodies from Bavaria, Berlin, Hessen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and North Rhine-Westphalia and Federal Criminal Police Offices (BKA) were actively involved in Germany. Schleswig-Holstein and Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI) participated as observers. Baden-W├╝rttemberg participated in laboratory co-operation through the CVUA in Karlsruhe.

Additional information

Information on the participation of Germany in OPSON VIII:

Europol Announcement on OPSON VIII:

Interpol Press Release on OPSON VIII:

EU COM communication on OPSON VIII (ecological food):

Information from FSA / NFCU (GB) to OPSON VIII (DNP):

BLV (CH) Website on National Controls:

Tasks and BVL activities in the fight against food fraud:

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