Penfolds falls victim to “hotbed” of food fraud

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 20th November 2017

Penfolds Wine

Police have seized 14, 000 bottles of fake Penfolds wine that was for sale in China.

The seize occurred after Penfolds parent company, Treasury Estate Wines, noticed that retailers were selling wine said to be Penfolds for low prices on popular Chinese online shopping site,  Alibaba.

On Wednesday last week, 13 suspects were arrested after a police investigated was initiated.

Fraud crackdown follows landmark legal case

In January 2017, Treasury Estate Wines won what is considered a landmark legal victory in China when it gained the rights to use its business name from an intellectual property squatter.

The case, which was conducted in the Beijing High People’s Court, granted Treasury Estate Wines the right to use the Chinese translation of the word Penfolds – “Ben Fu”.

In 2009, another party had registered the trademark for “Ben Fu” in China.

The battle over the rights to Ben Fu reportedly lasted two years.

The plague of food fraud in China and across the world

According to Pricewaterhouse Coopers, global food fraud is worth AUD $52 billion annually.

Comparatively, illegal trade in firearms is worth AUD $8.5 billion annually, and illicit heroin trade is AUD $30 billion.

In April 2017, international police forces, Europol-Interpol, concluded an operation into food fraud with 9, 800 tonnes of counterfeit and substandard food and drink sized.

Seized food products were wide-spread and included mineral water, alcohol, seasoning cubes, olive oil and caviar.

A total of 61 countries took part in the operation which was carried out for the sixth year in a row.

“This operation has once again shown that criminals will fake any type of food and drink with no thought to the human cost as long as they make a profit,” said ,” said Françoise Dorcier, Coordinator of Interpol’s Illicit Goods and Global Health Program.

Food fraud in the largest food-consuming nation in the world

Joe Lederman, Principal of food law firm, FoodLegal, said China is by far the world’s largest food producing and consuming nation, but there is serious concern that it is a “hotbed” of food substitution, contamination and misrepresentation.

“China and Australia are strong trading partners,” Lederman said.

“It is in the interests of both countries to stamp out improper and illegal activities in the food supply of our countries,” he said.

“There are strong existing legal and policy frameworks for cooperation between Australia and China, but these existing frameworks can be improved to deter food fraud,” Lederman said.


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