Authorities in Brazil Seize 9,000 Bottles of Fraudulent Olive Oil

The seizure comes two weeks after a separate raid where 16,000 liters of product marketed as extra virgin olive oil and deemed unfit for human consumption was destroyed.
(Photo: Brazil Ministry of Agriculture)
By Daniel Dawson
Dec. 12, 2023 17:15 UTC

Authorities in the south­ern Brazilian state of Paraná have seized about 9,000 bot­tles of fraud­u­lent olive oil val­ued at 300,000 Brazilian reals (€56,000).

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the bot­tles were sold as extra vir­gin olive oil of Spanish ori­gin. However, nuclear mag­netic res­o­nance test­ing found that they con­tained soy­bean oil.

In the long term, the chal­lenge (for Brazil) is to main­tain the qual­ity of the national prod­uct, pre­vent­ing fraud from occur­ring with domes­tic pro­duc­ers, as occurs today with imported olive oils.- Rafael Goelzer, mar­ket rela­tions direc­tor, Estância das Oliveiras

Agents from the min­istry first became sus­pi­cious after the Spanish-branded bot­tles were found in boxes with Portuguese labels. Closer inspec­tion revealed that the bot­tles also had dif­fer­ent types of caps. The fraud was con­firmed after mul­ti­ple sam­ples were found to have iden­ti­cal spec­tral pro­files.

Authorities did not say whether any arrests were made dur­ing the inspec­tion.

See Also:Police in Spain and Italy Uncover Olive Oil Fraud Ring

The seizure came two weeks after agents from the min­istry seized more than 16,000 liters of olive oil in São Paulo. More than 6,000 bot­tles were destroyed after author­i­ties tested the so-called olive oil and deemed it unfit for human con­sump­tion.

The min­istry declined to name the brands or super­mar­ket chains involved in either of the recent seizures but said rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the com­pa­nies were sum­moned to the min­istry.

According to Brazilian author­i­ties, olive oil fraud is the sec­ond-most com­mon type of food fraud in Brazil after fish fraud.

In a 2021 study, researchers from Italy, France and the United Kingdom found that dilut­ing vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil with lam­pante oil to sell as extra vir­gin and sub­sti­tut­ing extra vir­gin olive oil with soy­bean oil dyed green are the two most com­mon types of olive oil fraud in Brazil.

Between 2015 and 2017, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock detected irreg­u­lar­i­ties in 45 com­mer­cial brands of extra vir­gin olive oil. Authorities found that 62 per­cent of the 333,329 liters ana­lyzed by the min­istry had sen­sory defects.

Paraná and São Paulo are located near the country’s two largest olive oil-pro­duc­ing regions, Rio Grande do Sol and the Serra da Mantiqueira, respec­tively.

Domestic olive oil pro­duc­tion in Brazil remains very low, with about 580,000 liters pro­duced in the 2022/23 crop year. According to data from the International Olive Council, Brazil was expected to con­sume 85,000 tons of olive oil in 2022/23, vir­tu­ally all of which is imported.

As a result, both exporters to Brazil and local pro­duc­ers have told Olive Oil Times that the preva­lence of fraud is among their major con­cerns.

In the long term, the chal­lenge [for Brazil] is to main­tain the qual­ity of the national prod­uct, pre­vent­ing fraud from occur­ring with domes­tic pro­duc­ers, as occurs today with imported olive oils,” Rafael Goelzer, the mar­ket rela­tions direc­tor of Estância das Oliveiras, told Olive Oil Times in a 2023 inter­view.


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