` Italian Prosecutor Accuses Seven Brands of Fraud - Olive Oil Times

Italian Prosecutor Accuses Seven Brands of Fraud

Nov. 12, 2015
Ylenia Granitto

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The pros­e­cu­tor of Turin, Italy, Raffaele Guariniello, announced an inves­ti­ga­tion of a dozen legal rep­re­sen­ta­tives of var­i­ous olive oil pro­ducer com­pa­nies for pos­si­ble com­mer­cial fraud.

Seven major olive oil brands sold in Italian super­mar­kets are involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion: Carapelli, Santa Sabina, Bertolli, Coricelli, Sasso, Primadonna (a pri­vate label for the retail chain Lidl) and Antica Badia (a pri­vate label for the retail chain Eurospin), some of which, despite their Italian names, were recently acquired by for­eign groups.

It is impor­tant now to clar­ify this case, to pro­tect con­sumers and thou­sands of hon­est com­pa­nies engaged today in olive oil pro­duc­tion.- Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina

The inves­ti­ga­tion started after a report by Il Test (The Test), a mag­a­zine for con­sumer pro­tec­tion and rights, which last May ana­lyzed the olive oil con­tained in 20 bot­tles labeled as extra vir­gin olive oil” dis­trib­uted and sold by the most pop­u­lar super­mar­kets in Italy. 

The analy­ses were con­ducted by the chem­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory of the cus­toms agency (Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli) in Rome, one of the most qual­i­fied in Italy, which down­graded to vir­gin” almost half of the olive oils due to the pres­ence of organolep­tic defects found by the panel tests.
See Also: Doing Hard Time in Italy’s Last Island Prison Means Making Olive Oil
Chemical and phys­i­cal analy­ses on the para­me­ters of acid­ity, per­ox­ides and alkyl esters con­firmed the judg­ment of the panel. 

The pros­e­cu­tor instructed the NAS, offi­cials from the anti-adul­ter­ation and health unit of the Carabinieri, to repeat the analy­ses, which con­firmed that the olive oil con­tained in the bot­tles of some pop­u­lar brands, con­trary to the indi­ca­tion on the label, was not extra vir­gin, but sim­ply virgin.

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The inves­ti­ga­tion report­edly is not about the poten­tial health risks of the olive oil sold. None of the sub­stances in the prod­ucts seemed to be harm­ful to health. Instead, the alle­ga­tion is the poten­tial decep­tion of con­sumers, who paid about 30 – 40 per­cent more for a bot­tle of extra vir­gin olive oil when it turned out to not be the case.

We will fol­low with atten­tion the evo­lu­tion of the inves­ti­ga­tion of the Prosecutor of Turin,” the min­is­ter of agri­cul­tural, food and forestry poli­cies Maurizio Martina wrote in a state­ment, as it is essen­tial to pro­tect the strate­gic sec­tor of Italian olive oil.”

In the last months,” he con­tin­ued, we have strength­ened con­trols, espe­cially since last crop year was one of the most dif­fi­cult in recent years. In 2014 our inspec­torate for fraud repres­sion (ICQRF) has accom­plished over 6,000 inspec­tions and 10 mil­lion euros of seizures in this sec­tor. It is impor­tant now to clar­ify this case, to pro­tect con­sumers and thou­sands of hon­est com­pa­nies engaged today in olive oil production.”

The record of imports from abroad, in 2014, with the arrival of 666,000 tons of olive oil and pomace, 38 per­cent more than last year, cer­tainly encour­aged fraud,” Coldiretti said in its last press release. We need to defend this Made in Italy’ strate­gic sec­tor, as Italy is the sec­ond largest pro­ducer of olive oil after Spain with about 250 mil­lion plants and an esti­mated annual rev­enues of 2 bil­lion Euros.”

Italy is also the world’s largest importer of olive oils,” Coldiretti declared, that are often mixed with domes­tic ones to acquire, with the images on the label and under the cover of his­tor­i­cal brands — even if trans­ferred abroad — a sem­blance of Italian char­ac­ter to be exploited on domes­tic and for­eign mar­kets, a behav­ior that pro­motes fraud that must be fought with the strict appli­ca­tion of law.”

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