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article imageOp-Ed: Four fifths of Italian olive oil is not produced in Italy

By Katerina Nikolas     Dec 28, 2011 in Food
A news story has revealed that four out of every five bottles of Italian oil has been adulterated with olive oil imported from other countries. However, countries such as Greece, which export their oil to Italy, have long known of the practice.
An Italian olive oil fraud has been uncovered by the Italian customs service and has revealed that four out of five bottles of Italian olive oil are mixed with oils from other countries. Apparently this is has come as news to Italian investigators though the practice has been known of for years. However, the scale of the fraud has not been exposed before and flouts European food labeling laws.
According to the Telegraph the Italian oil is mixed with inferior oil. As the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil have been recognized the export market has grown, with Italian oils the most recognized.
However, it could well be a case that Italian oil is mixed with cheaper oils that do not yield as many euros from the olive press, due to the smaller import demand of high quality virgin oils from other nations such as Greece, which is less adept at marketing its own oil. Greek olive oil is bought by unscrupulous Italian producers and mixed with their own. Greek presses are notable for only pressing the olives once and exporting the residue.
The fraud was uncovered by investigators who noticed that Italy was importing far more olive oil than it exported. Yet a report from Dimitris Miliakos, Chairman of the Agricultural Bank of Greece, noted as early as 2005 that "it is a well known fact that a substantial quantity of exported Greek olive oil is mixed with lower-quality olive oil by companies abroad and subsequently is circulated and sold under foreign brand names in major importing markets."
Greek extra virgin olive oil is a high quality product that is beginning to gain 'brand' recognition, with oils from Crete and Kalamata gaining status on foreign shelves.
In 2009 the editor of All About Olive Oil explained "Italian olive oil producers often have to import oil from Spain and Greece! They are then the best (amongst these countries) on marketing it, meaning that it can happen the Italian olive oil that people find in supermarkets may actually come or be mixed with olive oils from other countries." He goes on to clarify "that the question which country products the best olive oil is the wrong one! Olive oil from Italy may be as good as olive oil from Spain or olive oil from Greece. It all depends on the freshness, quality of olive oil and your taste."
It just shows that the connoisseur of good extra virgin oils should consider Greek olive oil as their first option as oil from the Greek Peloponnese is pure and unadulterated.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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