The olive oil industry is rife with fraud. Writer Tom Mueller even published a 250 page book on the subject back in 2011. Yet, here we are years later and some olive oil producers are still acting as if lying to consumers is part of the industry norm. To wit, last week officials in Italy announced they broke up another illegal oil olive ring, this time busting six people for allegedly pawning off 7,000 tons of non-European oils as “100 percent Italian.”
According to Olive Oil Times (which, it turns out, exists), Italian officials have been extra diligent in their search for fraud this year after their country experienced an especially poor olive harvest. Focusing on oils coming from the Puglia region, a joint effort by the State Forestry Corps and the District Anti-Mafia Directorate used molecular analysis along with computer records to prove that the purportedly “100 percent Italian” products were actually blends culled from places like Syria, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia.
Overall, the investigation looked at a dozen companies and a certification laboratory. The Forestry Corps claim that the olive oil, which was sold not only in Italy, but also internationally including in the US, was worth “tens of millions of euros.”
“It is important to protect consumers and the thousands of honest companies that contribute to the success of ‘Made in Italy’ in the world,” said Maurizio Martina, the minister of agriculture and forestry. Martina is right. Nobody should have to sauté their vegetables in lies.
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