False foods of “champagne pepper”
These fake foods can take many forms, explains Ingrid Kragl, “for example, counterfeit foods, imitations that pass themselves off as quality products.” It can also be “contaminated food which is nevertheless marketed and enters the food chain”. For example, rotten tuna made edible after a chemical bath. It can still be “illegal products because they clearly broke the regulations”, such as fake pesticides.
This fraud also includes many so-called “adulterated” foods, ie the partial or total replacement of one product by another. This is for example the case of certain honeys “which have never seen a bee and which are a mixture of glucose syrup and other chemical junk”, she explains.
The finding is clear, according to Foodwatch. “It concerns absolutely all departments. It starts with salt and pepper which are a priori cheap, and it goes to chic and expensive foods such as foie gras and champagne, including fish, meat, olive oil, honey. ” In the case of condiments, “59% of the pepper controlled in France is fraudulent”, according to the repression of fraud, reports Ingrid Kragl. Some are cut with sand.
Labels not synonymous with better quality
Faced with these data, the reflex may be to turn to organic, local, or labels. But, according to Ingrid Kragl, “that will not be enough to be protected from fraud”. Because even with supposedly quality products, “there is cheating on the labels, on the origin, on the misappropriation of qualities”. In Europe, 9% of Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) are counterfeit, according to European statistics.
According to his investigation, fraud occurs at all levels. It can be due to “small French producers, SMEs or multinationals”. But can also sometimes be “the work of organized crime networks”. As Ingrid Kragl summarizes, consumers are “all partially affected by fraud. But manufacturers, in certain sectors are also victims”.
A “taboo” for the authorities
And this scam also comes at a cost. The European Commission estimates the amount of fraud at around 30 billion euros per year. But for the president of Foodwatch, “there is a good chance that it is underestimated”. Indeed, Italy alone estimates “at 24.5 billion the losses for the agro-food industry in what it includes in the term agro-mafia”. That is to say “all that concerns illegal practices linked to the agrifood industry”. A practice that has intensified with the Covid, since fraud inspectors were mobilized on other subjects.
The other problem with this fraudulent activity is the lack of transparency of the authorities. “The DGCCRF never communicates on brands, with one exception, for wines”, explains Ingrid Kragl. However, according to her, it is up to the States to “put in place a preventive policy to ensure that fraud does not take place” because consumers cannot tell the difference on the shelf. It therefore requires at least more transparency because this has “a dissuasive effect”. “It is a political choice to be opaque,” she said. This is why his NGO is launching a petition in this direction to the government. Foodwatch believes that the “taboo” of food fraud must be ended.
Source site www.europe1.fr