`Discovery of Adulterated Olive Oil Kindles Debate Over Testing in Northern Cyprus - Olive Oil Times

Discovery of Adulterated Olive Oil Kindles Debate Over Testing in Northern Cyprus

By Ofeoritse Daibo
Apr. 9, 2024 12:23 UTC

A debate over olive oil test­ing renewed in Northern Cyprus after a ran­dom sam­pling by the de facto state’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources found that 19 of 66 bot­tles labeled as vir­gin or extra vir­gin olive oil were adul­ter­ated.

The test­ing was con­ducted in January, with bot­tles selected from five of the state’s six dis­tricts. The results of the analy­sis were pub­lished late last month.

It’s evi­dent that reg­u­lar analy­ses of olive oil are not being con­ducted,” Fide Kürşat, a deputy of the Republican Turkish Party, told local broad­caster Kıbrıs Postası TV. Those who make unfair prof­its by sell­ing fake olive oil and those who play with pub­lic health should be exposed.”

The Ministry of Agriculture said it had iden­ti­fied seven com­pa­nies respon­si­ble for 18 of the sam­ples and is tak­ing legal action against five com­pa­nies. The pro­duc­ers of one sam­ple could not be iden­ti­fied.

See Also:The Olive Farm that Breathed New Life into Cyprus’s No Man’s Land

The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Industry has responded to the report by call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to fund new lab­o­ra­to­ries and expand test­ing. Currently, pro­duc­ers and offi­cials in Northern Cyprus send sam­ples to Turkey for test­ing.

According to the European Commission, which views Cyprus as a sin­gle coun­try though does not extend the usual rights of European Union mem­bers to Northern Cypriots, the island was antic­i­pated to pro­duce 6,000 tons of olive oil in the 2023/24 crop year, the island’s high­est yield since 2017/18.

Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus, also known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, is a self-declared state occu­py­ing the north­east­ern part of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. It is rec­og­nized only by Turkey, while the United Nations and 192 of its mem­ber coun­tries con­sider the whole island a sin­gle coun­try. The divi­sion stems from con­flicts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite inter­na­tional calls for reuni­fi­ca­tion, the island remains polit­i­cally divided.

Celal Arap, a pro­ducer with about 1,000 trees in Northern Cyprus, indi­cated that gov­ern­ment poli­cies cre­ate con­di­tions for fraud in the state. He told local news­pa­per Kibris that the 2010 import ban on olive oil meant local pro­duc­tion occa­sion­ally does not cover demand.

Instead, pro­duc­ers import olives as a workaround, which they mill into olive oil. Over time, with the change in the demo­graphic struc­ture and, of course, the taste in the coun­try, there has been a seri­ous demand for olives from abroad,” he said.

However, as olive prices rose in tan­dem with olive oil prices, pro­duc­ers have strug­gled to import enough olives to meet demand, cre­at­ing fer­tile ground for unscrupu­lous actors in the sec­tor.

In the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion, it is very risky for domes­tic pro­duc­ers to invest in olives,” Arap said. The prod­uct was four times more expen­sive this year com­pared to last year.”

This sit­u­a­tion puts the pro­ducer in seri­ous dif­fi­culty,” he added. The pro­ducer can only buy a quar­ter of the prod­uct they bought last year with the money obtained from the olive oil sold last year. This is also a very seri­ous prob­lem.”

While the min­istry did not spec­u­late about the cause of the adul­ter­ation, high olive oil prices at ori­gin have fueled fraud glob­ally.

According to Europol, sell­ing fake olive oil has become a com­mon prac­tice.” The European-wide polic­ing agency made the state­ment after seiz­ing 260,000 liters of adul­ter­ated olive oil in Spain and Italy in December.

In the case of Northern Cyprus, reg­u­lar inspec­tions may be the best way to reduce coun­ter­feits in the local mar­ket.

Creating new laws is not suf­fi­cient; the nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tions must also be imposed urgently, and the lack of con­trols, which is one of the biggest prob­lems in the coun­try, must be elim­i­nated,” Kürşat said.

Arap agreed: Those who do these things must be held account­able,” he con­cluded.


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