The German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German Federal Criminal Police and UNICRI join forces against food fraud and related organized crime activities
Berlin, 3 July 2018. The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit - BVL) and the German Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt – BKA) met in Berlin within the framework of UNICRI’s SIRIO initiative to start a cooperation in the area of food fraud.
During the meeting at the BVL premises, UNICRI was represented by Mr. Marco Musumeci, the BKA by Mr. Frank Prehn and the BVL by Mr. Andreas Kliemant, Mr. Oliver Frandrup-Kuhr and Mr. Florian Riedel.
Criminal organizations are taking advantage of the high profitability of food fraud and food counterfeiting, creating risks for unsuspecting consumers while generating high profits to further expand their criminal activities. Counterfeiting serves a dual function for organized crime: a source of finance for other illegal activities and a way of laundering proceeds from other crimes. The counterfeiting industry is extremely lucrative, even when compared with other illicit activities such as drug trafficking. The level of risk is lower with less severe penalties and fewer resources devoted to this sector.
Every food product can be a target, including vegetables, dairy products and derivatives. UNICRI, working with different partners through its SIRIO initiative, will analyze the existing and emerging security risks in this area, identifying appropriate policies and technological responses.
The partnership with BVL and BKA is crucial in this regard. BVL developed a considerable experience in fighting food fraud and is the focal point for the Interpol-Europol joint Operation Opson, targeting fake and substandard food and beverages. BKA recently analysed cases in which criminal organizations were involved in the production and trade of fraudulent food in Germany.
The meeting in Berlin represented an important opportunity to exchange information and expertise. This will allow UNICRI, BVL and BKA to develop risk scenarios on food fraud to be discussed during a dedicated meeting that will be organized by the end of 2018 within the framework of SIRIO.
SIRIO, which stands for “Security through Research, Technology and Innovation" is a Knowledge Center launched by UNICRI in Geneva. The Center is engaging national authorities, industry and research institutions (both public and private) as well as governmental and inter-governmental entities to analyze and promote knowledge and technology solutions to address emerging security risks. The main thematic areas considered by SIRIO are: supply chain security, critical infrastructures, cyber-space, the management of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) material as well as the potential security risks related to Big Data analytics, biotechnology and nano-technology, and artificial intelligence. In particular, the Center is dedicated to:
- Identifying emerging and future security risks;
- Mapping technology innovations to match security needs;
- Raise awareness and inform policy-makers about emerging risks and innovative solutions, while promoting results of SIRIO’s activity.