20210404 arrest, handcuff, police
Legal action is being taken against the offenders. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Cairo: Saudi inspectors have raided a farm turned into a hotbed for manufacturing bogus products, including incense from wood scrap in the holy city of Mecca, authorities have said.

The Ministry of Commerce said an unspecified number of workers had turned the farm in the Mecca region into an illegal site for making incense from wood leftovers, repacking expired rice with new labels and making apple vinegar from oil residues of an unknown origin.

The offenders were arrested and referred to competent agencies, while the seized goods were stopped from reaching the market.

In recent months, Saudi authorities have stepped up inspections of food outlets across the kingdom and exposed several fraud attempts.

In April, Saudi health inspectors said they had seized 7 tonnes of milk unfit for human consumption before they could be made available at the market. The seizure had been made by inspectors from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority before the milk could be sold at some restaurants in Riyadh.

In March, municipal authorities in the city of Taif in western Saudi Arabia detected an unlicensed facility for making pastry inside a laundry. Inspectors had seized large quantities of pastry and kneaded rolls in the place, which they said had lacked basic hygiene.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia set up a prosecution branch to handle cases of fraud in a step aimed to fast-track related procedures.

The Kingdom’s Attorney-General Saud Al Mojeb endorsed the establishment of the Prosecution for Financial Fraud Crimes, to be in charge of judicial anti-fraud procedures including interrogating suspects and filing relevant lawsuits at courts.

The anti-fraud prosecution unit is manned by prosecutors specialised in handling such fraud crimes.

Under Saudi law, fraud is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of SR5 million.

The penalties are tougher in cases of involvement in food adulteration.