`Italian Police Seize Spanish Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Italian Police Seize Spanish Olive Oil

Mar. 13, 2011
Tom Baker

Recent News

Around 54,000 liters of Spanish olive oil have been seized by Italian police in the south­ern city of Salerno, the press agency AdnKronos reported. Police made the deci­sion to impound the oil on Friday after learn­ing that it was being falsely passed off as Italian.

The dis­cov­ery was made dur­ing a check of a large truck that was mak­ing its way to south­ern Italy from the Spanish town of Valencia. During the check a doc­u­ment was found declar­ing that the olive oil had been pro­duced in Italy’s Campania region, in which Salerno is one of the largest towns. Further inves­ti­ga­tion how­ever, uncov­ered a sec­ond doc­u­ment
that read Extra Virgin Olive Oil — 100% Spanish”.

Although the names of the par­ties involved are yet to be revealed, the paper­work is said to have listed a com­pany from the south­ern Puglia region as the sender of the oil which was then due to be deliv­ered to a sec­ond com­pany in the cen­tral Umbria region.

Olive oil adul­ter­ation is taken seri­ously by Italian author­i­ties. As one the world’s lead­ing olive oil pro­duc­ers, it is also one of the hard­est hit by olive oil fraud. In recent years ille­gal activ­i­ties have been found to range from pro­duc­ers import­ing oil from coun­tries such as Greece, Tunisia, and Spain and then re-labelling it as Italian oil, to labelling infe­rior oils as being Extra Virgin’. There have also been cases where pro­duc­ers claim EU sub­si­dies for grow­ing olives on Italian soil when they have actu­ally been pro­duced else­where and imported.

In 2008, Italy went to great lengths to pro­tect the value of its oil with over 400 Italian police offi­cers tak­ing part in what was called Operation Golden Oil’, a move designed to crack down on ille­gal activ­ity within the Italian indus­try. Golden Oil’ led to the arrest of 23 peo­ple and the con­fis­ca­tion of 85 farms in con­nec­tion with the country’s fraud­u­lent olive oil trade with fur­ther arrests tak­ing place in the fol­low­ing months.

Italy has specif­i­cally trained police offi­cers to help fight against pro­duc­ers who attempt to ben­e­fit from fraud­u­lent asso­ci­a­tion with Italian olive oil. The offi­cers, all from the spe­cial­ist food piracy branch of Italy’s para­mil­i­tary Carabinieri and trained inten­sively by the national olive oil asso­ci­a­tion, are able not only to dis­tin­guish between high qual­ity extra vir­gin oil and diluted poorer qual­ity oil, but are also able to detect the sub­tle dif­fer­ences in oils pro­duced in dif­fer­ent regions of Italy and abroad.

More recently, a con­sor­tium has begun cer­ti­fy­ing many extra vir­gin olive oils as I.O.O%” (the let­ters stand for Italian Olive Oil) which seeks to estab­lish the pro­ce­dures for pro­duc­tion, stor­age, mar­ket­ing of a high qual­ity extra vir­gin Italian olive oil.


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