According to the report from 60 minutes Overtime, CBS News on 6th Jan 2016, Italian olive oil business has been corrupted by the Mafia, which is making big bucks tampering with Italian food products in ways that could affect consumers. The Italians call it “Agromafia” and it’s estimated to be a $16-billion per year enterprise.
Illustration by Nicholas Blechman, New York Times
Journalist Tom Mueller’s research estimates that 50% of oil sold as “extra virgin” in Italy and 75-80% that of in U.S. does not meet the legal grades for “extra-virgin”.
Common types of fraud:
Mixing with lower quality olive oil from North America / around Mediterranean
Seed oil such as Sunflower oil added with chlorophyll and beta-carotene, made to look and smell like olive oil
Suggestions for customers:
Look closely to label, for major producing city in Italy, e.g. Sicily / Puglia
Online shopping from trustworthy producers
Look for products sold in reasonable price
Use local freshly made and shipped olive oil instead
France, Italy, Portugal and Spain produce around three-quarters of world’s olive oil, however the Europe’s olive harvest was hit hard in 2014 by bad weather and blight, the bulk price of extra virgin olive oil jumped more than 3 euros from 2.7 to 6.
It provides the opportunity for the Mafia to get involve in this liquid-gold business. The food supply chain‘s technology should have ability to trace and prevent this massive fraud. But now it is obviously not doing a good job.
Consumers need to understand that you now need to pay more and look more carefully when buying genuine Extra Virgin Olive Oil, particularly those from Italy. Or simply buy Enjoi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Premium quality from Australian. Excellent storage conditions, strict production procedure, not affect by the weather and infestation in Europe.
1. International Business Times - Europe Olive Oil Crisis: 2014 Harvest ‘Worst Year In Memory,’ Drives Up Costs
4. Food Logistics - '60 Minutes' Exposes Italy’s Olive Oil Fraud