`Spanish Supermarket Chain Alcampo Accused of Olive Oil Fraud - Olive Oil Times

Spanish Supermarket Chain Alcampo Accused of Olive Oil Fraud

Sep. 24, 2010
Sarah Schwager

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The crack­down on olive oil fraud is gain­ing pace, with a big name Spanish retailer named this week for label­ing its store brand olive oil extra vir­gin” when it actu­ally con­tains a mix­ture of refined oil and vir­gin olive oil.

Supermarket chain Alcampo will be penal­ized after it was exposed by the Coordinator of Organizations of Farmers and Cattlemen (COAG) for giv­ing con­sumers mis­lead­ing infor­ma­tion by mark­ing its Auchan brand three- and five-liter bot­tles extra vir­gin”.

The Andalusian Administration has already recalled 2,241 five-liter bot­tles and 88 three-liter bot­tles from the company’s Alcampo de Linares stores in Jaén, amount­ing to 11,464 liters of oil.

According to Europa Press, the inves­ti­ga­tion into the super­mar­ket giant began in February when COAG filed a com­plaint with Consumer Services at Jaén’s Regional Health Authority, prompt­ing sam­ples to be sent to Agri-Food Laboratories in Córdoba and Atarfe, Granada.

Consumer Services found Alcampo account­able for two offenses – one for devel­op­ing and dis­trib­ut­ing goods with­out com­ply­ing with the duties of infor­ma­tion, and the other for defraud­ing by weight, mea­sure or qual­ity of goods offered.

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The first of these vio­la­tions, which was ini­tially classed as mild, has become seri­ous due to the lack of the most fun­da­men­tal duties of due dili­gence and for its impact on the mar­ket”, the record says.

Each offense could be pun­ish­able by a fine of any­where between 5,001 and 30,000 euros (US$6,725-$40,345).

The con­certed effort by the Spanish watch­dogs is good news for mak­ers of true extra vir­gin olive oil and cam­paign­ers of enforc­ing world­wide olive oil stan­dards.

Watching Australia

The global olive oil indus­try is already watch­ing as Australia gets set to put a new olive stan­dard to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion in an attempt to keep mis­la­beled olive oils off the shelves.

Standards Australia, the Australian Olive Association, retail­ers, con­sumer asso­ci­a­tions, gov­ern­ment bod­ies and grow­ers are cur­rently help­ing develop the Australian Standard after a cou­ple of recent stud­ies revealed up to half of imported extra vir­gin oils car­ried inac­cu­rate label­ing and didn’t meet inter­na­tional standards[1].

If the Australian Standard is intro­duced it could put an end to the free reign for­eign com­pa­nies have had in the Australian mar­ket, and could poten­tially reduce over­all imports from old world pro­duc­ers.

It may also see other big olive oil import­ing coun­tries fol­low suit, such as the USA, which recently released its Standards for Grades of Olive Oil and Olive Pomace Oil. Currently, the stan­dards fol­low much the same lines as those of the International Olive Council (IOC).

The IOC, while it defines the stan­dard, does not enact any enforce­ment of the stan­dard nor does it have the power to force a coun­try to impose the stan­dards. It is up to that country’s gov­ern­ment to decide whether or not it wants to act.

Spain’s Department of Consumer Affairs has informed Alcampo of its pro­posed penalty, tak­ing the company’s coop­er­a­tion into account, but says it is not yet final as the com­pany still has the right to appeal.


[1] Study by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industry, July 2010; Survey by Australian con­sumer group Choice, July 2010.

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