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Interpol Finds Painted Olives, Monkey Meat Shipped as 'Food'

Italian officers recovered more than 85 tonnes of olives which had been ‘painted’ with copper sulphate solutions to enhance their colour. (Interpol)

Interpol says inspections of "food" shipments have turned up more than 10,000 tons and a million liters of fake, illicit or toxic food and beverages during a four-month period.

Discoveries in 57 countries worldwide included fake Sudanese sugar mixed with fertilizer and 85 tons of Italian olives “painted” with copper sulfate to improve their appearance.

Other items included 10,000 liters of “fake or adulterated” alcoholic drinks, adulterated honey and, in Indonesia, 70 kilograms of chicken intestines soaking in formalin, a prohibited additive.

Officials in Belgium confiscated several kilograms of monkey meat from a traveler's luggage labeled for human consumption, and customs officers in France seized and destroyed 11 kilograms of locusts and 20 kilograms of caterpillars.

Inspections were conducted between November 2015 and February by police, customs officials and regulatory bodies at “shops, markets, airports, seaports and industrial estates,” Interpol said, and these were the largest quantities of illicit goods seized since coordinated inspections began five years ago.

The international police agency said fake or adulterated food is "a multibillion-dollar criminal industry which can pose serious potential health risks to unsuspecting customers."

A number of arrests were made worldwide throughout the operation, and Interpol said investigations are continuing in an attempt to identify and disrupt organized-crime networks behind the trafficking in fake goods.