A joint operation by Interpol and Europol has resulted in almost 100 arrests as the authorities continue their crackdown on food fraud perpetuated by “criminal gangs”.

Operation Opson III, which was conducted between December 2013 and January 2014, led to 96 arrests and the seizure of more than 1,200 tonnes of fake food across 33 countries in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

Operation Opson III targeted the organised crime networks behind the illicit trade in counterfeit and unregulated food and drink. It recovered 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar; more than 80,000 biscuits; 20 tonnes of spices and condiments; 186 tonnes of cereals; 45 tonnes of dairy products and 42 litres of honey.

According to the UK authorities, the success of the operation was the result of “unprecedented” levels of cooperation between national and international law enforcement agencies and the food industry.

Speaking today (11 June) at the International IP Enforcement Summit London UK intellectual property minister Lord Younger said: “Coordination was key to the success of Opson III, and the Intellectual Property Office played this vital role for the UK. Building on this, I will be hosting the 2014 Opson IV planning conference next month in London.”

He added: “Fake and sub-standard food poses a serious health risk to consumers and takes money away from legitimate producers and retailers. The UK will continue to share its expertise in the international fight against fake food and work with our partners to bring these unscrupulous criminal gangs to justice.”