Spain's Civil Guard Seizes 120 Tons of Fake Olive Oil

Farmers alerted police that some companies may have been manipulating olive oil with biodiesel, with the intention to distribute it on the market as olive oil.

May. 30, 2016
By Ylenia Granitto

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The Spanish Civil Guard has seized more than 120 tons of fake olive oil, under the oper­a­tion Cloroil.’

The judi­cial police units of the Civil Guard of Jaén arrested 9 peo­ple and 2 oth­ers are now under inves­ti­ga­tion. Four have crim­i­nal records for ille­gal­i­ties like forgery and fraud against con­sumers. Among them are: Enrique Fuentes Ibáñez, who is already doing time for the Iniosa’ case (an alleged fraud in which more than 200 olive grow­ers in Jaén and Córdoba deliv­ered their 2001 and 2002 olive har­vests to a com­pany which later declared bank­ruptcy, leav­ing them unpaid); and his son Enrique Fuentes P., also in jail for fis­cal fraud for forgery and belong­ing to a crim­i­nal orga­ni­za­tion.

According to the Civil Guard web­site, the oper­a­tion was launched when the agents, dur­ing one of their peri­odic meet­ings with agri­cul­tural orga­ni­za­tions, coop­er­a­tives and asso­ci­a­tions of farm­ers, offi­cials were alerted to the pos­si­bil­ity that some com­pa­nies may have been manip­u­lat­ing olive oil with biodiesel, with the inten­tion to dis­trib­ute it on the mar­ket as olive oil.

The agents set up a device to detect the move­ment of trucks and found that a com­pany based in Jaén was the recip­i­ent of con­sign­ments of sun­flower oil from France, palm oil from Ecuador and avo­cado oil from Greece. They also found that the com­pany was acquir­ing fla­vor­ings and col­orants not needed for its des­ig­nated com­mer­cial activ­i­ties.

The Civil Guard, in coor­di­na­tion with the Regional Ministry of Agriculture of the Government of Andalusía, inspected the facil­i­ties and admin­is­tra­tive areas of the com­pany and took sam­ples of olive oils at four other com­pa­nies in Jaén, Granada and Córdoba. They uncov­ered and seized 120 tons of dif­fer­ent oils, thyme and gar­lic fla­vor­ings, 16 per­cent fat-sol­u­ble mag­ne­sium chloro­phyll, and false doc­u­ments.

The forgery of the trans­port doc­u­ments was allegedly used to avoid the track­ing of sub­stan­dard large con­tain­ers used for the trans­port of oils, which caused a health risk due to the pos­si­ble pres­ence of harm­ful residues. The mix­ture of oils could be harm­ful to those with sen­si­tiv­ity to cer­tain sub­stances and aller­gens.

One of the pro­ce­dures used to obtain the oil could be to use extracts already used and dis­carded by other man­u­fac­tur­ers, while sun­flower oil had been sub­jected to a refin­ing process and then mixed with palm or avo­cado oil. The final prod­uct was found to be com­prised of only an esti­mated 15 per­cent olive oil.


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