'60 Minutes' Looks at Olive Oil Adulteration in Italy

This Sunday, the most successful program in U.S. television history will delve into the adulteration of extra virgin olive oil in Italy and mafia involvement in the agricultural sector.
Jan. 1, 2016 12:15 UTC
Olive Oil Times Staff

60 Minutes, the most suc­cess­ful pro­gram in U.S. tele­vi­sion his­tory, will delve into the adul­ter­ation of extra vir­gin olive oil in Italy and mafia involve­ment in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor. With an aver­age audi­ence of 12.2 mil­lion, the broad­cast will draw unprece­dented atten­tion to the issue of olive oil qual­ity and authen­tic­ity.
See Also:The World’s Best Olive Oils, Official NYIOOC Ranking
The seg­ment, which will air Sunday, January 3 at 7:30 PM Eastern Time (00:30 UTC) fea­tures a look by CBS News cor­re­spon­dent Bill Whitaker at the Carabinieri unit of tasters trained to detect coun­ter­feit oils. They can tell at first sip whether extra vir­gin been diluted with cheap sun­flower oil or canola,” Whitaker says.

In its vig­or­ous effort to defend Italian extra vir­gin olive oil that has proved to be a favorite tar­get of the agro­mafia,” 60 spe­cially trained offi­cers make up the tast­ing panel and 1,100 more are in the field con­duct­ing inves­ti­ga­tions into food fraud through­out the coun­try, the report says. We can call our­selves the FBI of food,” Sergio Tirro of the Carabinieri tells Whitaker.

Last month a mas­sive fraud was unmasked by the State Forestry Corps, and the Anti-Mafia Directorate of Bari, which dis­cov­ered that 7,000 tons of olive oil sold as 100% Italian’ extra vir­gin olive oil were actu­ally blended oils from non-EU coun­tries such as Syria, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia.
See Also:Articles on Olive Oil Fraud
The oil was sold on the Italian and inter­na­tional mar­kets labeled 100 per­cent Italian’ with a value esti­mated to be in the tens of mil­lions of euros,” accord­ing to the Forestry Corps.

Italian extra vir­gin olive oil com­mands a pre­mium price in mar­kets around the world due to the long­stand­ing pres­tige of the brand. The 60 Minutes seg­ment is the lat­est in a series of widely pub­li­cized exam­i­na­tions of crim­i­nal activ­i­ties exploit­ing the per­ceived value of Made in Italy’ food prod­ucts.


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