Sergio Tirro of the Carabinieri takes CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker through the sensory laboratory of the Italian police charged with identifying counterfeit olive oils in a '60 Minutes' segment to be aired this Sunday, April 3.

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 more: 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 more: 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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