Italy Cracks Down on Olive Oil Fraud

We wrote recently about the upward trend of California-grown olive oil, which still represents a small portion of US sales but has been given a boost by great reviews and press reports exposing the fraud that mars the Italian market. Fraud includes misuse of “virgin” and “extra-virgin” labels, as well as misrepresentation of olive origin.

In an effort to save the reputation of Italian-made oils, Italian lawmakers have now voted to tighten regulations around such fraud, and increase penalties for mislabeling. In the past, regulations have imposed fines of up to 9,500 euros on producers for violating these decrees, but proponents of the new harsher version point out that fraud represents a multi-million euro industry, and the low fines are unlikely to be an effective deterrent. As one Italian lawmaker, Colomba Mongiello, described it to the NY Times, “it is not the moment to lower our guard on fraud and counterfeiting. It is important to punish anyone who damages the image of Italy abroad.”

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