MADRID – In a significant operation against olive oil adulteration in Europe, producers from Ciudad Real, Jaén, and Córdoba are involved. Furthermore, the Spanish Guardia Civil has arrested eleven individuals. They were part of a network engaged in the international distribution of adulterated olive oil.
This network was operating in Spain and Italy and mixed bad quality oil with varieties not fit for human consumption. Thereafter, they sold it in supermarkets as extra virgin olive oil.
The Guardia Civil conducted eight searches at cooperatives in Ciudad Real, Jaén, and Córdoba. An inspection of an olive oil-carrying truck in Manzanares (Ciudad Real) revealed irregularities, leading to the initiation of operation ‘Omegabad’. Furthermore, this operation uncovered the existence of an organisation with branches in Spain and Italy. Moreover, they were dedicated to distributing adulterated olive oil internationally.
Falsifications and health risks
Meanwhile, in Italy, an inspection of extra virgin olive oil led to the recall of 500 bottles of ConDisano. This was a blend of various oils that failed to meet the nutritional percentages promised on the label. Although marketed as high-quality oil, it only contained 15% olive oil, with the rest being corn and sunflower oil.
In Spain, the dismantled network acquired lower-grade oils and converted them into higher categories through forged documentation. They mixed lower-quality olive oil with better-quality oil to achieve acceptable levels of fats and erythrodial. Consequently, this enabled them to trade the oils without traceability.
Hazards of lamp oil
As previously reported by the Extremadura Agri-food Laboratory, lamp oil, produced from the residues of refined products, is not fit for consumption and is intended as a plant-based fuel.
International business structure
The operation involved two companies in Italy that aggregated oils from various prominent olive oil-producing countries, mostly entering the EU through Portugal. These companies applied the same falsification and manipulation procedures as in Spain. Futhermore, utilising a strong transnational corporate structure without traceability controls.
In total, eight simultaneous searches were conducted in Spain and Italy, resulting in the seizure of 16 olive oil tanks and over 5,200 litres of adulterated olive oil, along with cash, luxury vehicles, and blocked bank accounts.