Food and drink counterfeit seizures fall

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cent, European union

The amount of counterfeit food and drink products seized at the
EU's borders decreased by 77 per cent in 2006, the European
Commission said yesterday.

The lower figures for food and computer equipment were the only bright spots in the year, as the amount of overall seizures increased by 330 per cent to 250 million counterfeit and pirated articles. A total of 1,177,785 fake food and beverage products were seized by member states customs officials in 2006, a drop of 77 per cent, according to the EU's annual report on the issue. Counterfeiting and tampering can undermine consumer trust in the quality and safety of a branded food product, leading to a loss in market share. In response, some companies have turned to new forms of packaging and intelligent labelling to ensure that consumers and customs can check for authenticity. The private sector, through organisations such as Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries of the European Union (CIAA), has consistently advocated improved intellectual property protection as the key to EU competitiveness. Turkey remains the main source of fake food and beverages, accounting for 18 per cent of the total. It is followed followed by China (16 per cent), Singapore (12 per cent), Hungary (seven per cent), and Tunisia (six per cent). Other countries accounted for 41 per cent. In terms of overall quantities of all food and non-food items seized, China accounts for 80 per cent of all articles seized at the EU's borders. In the medicines sector, India is the number one source, followed by the United Arab Emirates and China. Together the three sources are responsible for about 80 per cent of all counterfeit medicines. The 2006 statistics show an increase in almost all sectors of goods. Particularly worrying is the increase in medicines and products for personal care, as these products could potentially harm the health and safety of consumers, the Commission stated. The Commission cited better risk management procedures by customs officials, and better coordination between member states as among the reasons for the increased seizures. "The increase in cases treated show that customs made more selections in 2006 and included some extremely large seizures, which certainly had an effect on this years' high increase,"​ the Commission stated. "The increase may also reflect the growth in trade of such goods, though it is probably a combination of these factors."​ About 60 per cent of the articles seized in 2006 were cigarettes. EU legislation, which came into effect on 1 January 2007, requires all of the bloc's importers and exporters to have a special security certificate for easier access across borders. The new procedure is aimed at reducing terrorism, fraud and counterfeit products. The EU Customs Security scheme allows those qualifying for the special security certificate to move their goods quickly to and from the EU. Companies that fail to comply with the new rule could face crippling delays to their exports and imports, burdening them with extra costs, according to analysis by Ernst & Young.

Related topics: Food safety and labeling

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