` Italian Police Seize Spanish Olive Oil - Olive Oil Times

Italian Police Seize Spanish Olive Oil

Mar 13, 2011 2:35 PM EDT
Tom Baker

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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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