`Spanish Prosecutors Seek Nine Years in Jail for Three Accused of Olive Oil Fraud

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Spanish Prosecutors Seek Nine Years in Jail for Three Accused of Olive Oil Fraud

Sep. 18, 2011
Julie Butler

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Span­ish pros­e­cu­tors are seek­ing nine years jail and fines of 8,760 euros ($12,000) each for three Andalu­sian busi­ness­men accused of olive oil fraud and decep­tive adver­tis­ing.

They say the trio sold as extra vir­gin olive oil mix­tures of 70 – 80 per cent sun­flower oil and just 20 – 30 per­cent olive oil, along with a dash of E141 – a food addi­tive not approved for use in cook­ing oils – for color enhance­ment.

Accord­ing to Span­ish news­pa­per ABC, the pros­e­cu­tion claims that from their busi­nesses in Lucena, Baena and Espejo — all within the Cór­doba region — the men sold hun­dreds of thou­sands of liters of adul­ter­ated oil between early 2005 and mid-2006.

Labeled as extra vir­gin olive oil, and priced accord­ingly, 5‑liter metal and plas­tic con­tain­ers of the oil were sold in Andalu­sia, Valen­cia and Cat­alo­nia to unwit­ting food whole­salers, restau­rants, and indi­vid­ual con­sumers, includ­ing via the inter­net, a Cór­doba provin­cial court heard this week.

The trio, iden­ti­fied only by their ini­tials – JMA, FAM and JJC – were charged as part of Oper­a­tion Cho­les­terol.’ A national inves­ti­ga­tion in Spain in 2006, it fol­lowed com­plaints of sus­pected olive oil adul­ter­ation which were sub­stan­ti­ated in test­ing by regional author­i­ties.

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The pros­e­cu­tion says that while not all those who bought the adul­ter­ated oil have been iden­ti­fied, the trio should at least com­pen­sate those whole­salers who are known to have bought it, and the accused three should be dis­qual­i­fied from sell­ing cook­ing oils.



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