`Italian Investigators Uncover "Falsified Foods" - Olive Oil Times

Italian Investigators Uncover "Falsified Foods"

Mar. 31, 2011
Lucy Vivante

Recent News

The Corpo Forestale called a press con­fer­ence today to review ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions. Besides olive oil, Gorgonzola and a so-called truf­fle spread were dis­cussed in some detail. The Corpo Forestale, or forestry depart­ment, is charged with pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment. Forests as well as cul­ti­vated areas are over­seen by the agency and olive oil falls under the NAF sub­group. NAF, even if awk­wardly trans­lated, stands for Nucleus of Agrifood and Forestry.

The packed room was full of jour­nal­ists, and there was some dis­ap­point­ment when it was announced that the new Minister of Agriculture, Saverio Romano could not attend (Giancarlo Galan has moved on to being Minister of Culture). On the table at the head of the room, where the speak­ers were seated, were items that had been unmasked as coun­ter­feit or fraud­u­lent by the Corpo Forestale.

There were bot­tles of wines, jars of jam, and olive oil. One of the bot­tles of olive oil had its labels blacked out with magic marker, which of course made it all the more con­spic­u­ous. Even with the Carapelli name masked over, one could tell it was the Grupo SOS brand. After the con­fer­ence I asked some­one from the min­istry why the name was blacked out, and he replied it was because the com­pany is very powerful.

Most of the speak­ers touched on the fact that Italy is very rich in geo­graph­i­cally indi­cated foods. With 221 prod­ucts, it has more than any other coun­try in Europe. Cesare Patrone, head of the Corpo Forestale, said that because Italian foods are the most prized in the world, it’s clear we also have pri­macy in fal­si­fied foods, which are sold annu­ally for more than 50 mil­lion euros.” To com­bat fraud, the Corpo Forestale in the past year stepped up their activ­i­ties with more inves­ti­ga­tions, and with the num­ber of crim­i­nal cases reach­ing 102, well over the 75 of 2009.

Amadeo de Franceschi a chemist and offi­cer of the Corpo Forestale, reported on the inves­ti­ga­tion dubbed On the Trail of Deodorized Oil.” He said the Corpo was car­ry­ing out rou­tine inspec­tions, mak­ing sure that com­pa­nies were com­ply­ing with European Union laws requir­ing care­ful atten­tion to the ori­gin of olive oil, when they dis­cov­ered the irreg­u­lar­i­ties. In September 2010 that they found doc­u­ments which had been altered. They were puz­zled why the tran­sit doc­u­ments were fal­si­fied since the oil in the Carapelli Nobile bot­tles (sold at 8 € each) did­n’t pur­port to be all Italian, but had European Community as the origin.

Quality matters.
Find the world's best olive oils near you.

They were also puz­zled by the promi­nent Low Acidity” label on the bot­tle. Their hypoth­e­sis is that the oil was deodor­ized. During his talk, De Franceschi showed a slide of an asphalt yard in Spain with a moun­tain of olives and at the base there was oil pool­ing from the huge weight. Deodorized oil is mostly made from overly ripe olives, or olives that have been improp­erly han­dled. For higher qual­ity olive oil, not much time should elapse between har­vest and extrac­tion, and the olives should be treated gingerly.

While the Corpo thought it should be sequestered, the Florentine mag­is­trate did not agree. The Florence court is inves­ti­gat­ing, and three exec­u­tives of Carapelli have been indicted. On July 4th the court will con­vene again to reveal what sci­en­tific analy­sis had to say about the con­fis­cated oil.

This is a break­ing news story. Check back for updates.

Related News

Feedback / Suggestions