Seven Italian companies are under investigation for fraudulently marketing olive oil as “extra virgin”.
Suspected are the legal representatives of leading Italian producers Carapelli, Bertolli, Santa Sabina, Coricelli, Sasso, Primadonna (marketed under the Lidl brand) and Antica Badia (marketed through the Eurospin discount supermarkets).
Prosecutors in Turin launched the investigation after a report in specialist magazine “Il Test” revealed that 9 out of 20 bottles it tested were not “extra virgin” as labelled.
Experts examined samples of the olive oil concerned and it emerged that the seven companies declared on the packaging that the oil sold was “extra virgin” (100% or mixed with other oils) when in fact it was simply "virgin", i.e. belonging to a lower quality category, with physical and chemical parameters different from the more expensive oil.
As a result, consumers ended up paying around 30% more for a bottle of oil believing it was “extra virgin” when in reality it was not.
Italian farm lobby Coldiretti has denounced the risk of fraud "favoured by record imports”. According to the association, in 2014 Italy imported 666,000 tonnes of oil and olive residue, more than 38% from the year before.
Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality of olive oil and producers have to meet specific standards to be able to use the label.
© 2015 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Branislav Pekic. To subscribe to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine, click here.