Italian law enforcement keeps cracking down on fraudulent and illegal activities, like in this latest case of fake alcoholic beverage distribution and sales. About 5,500 bottles were seized and samples were investigated in the lab, revealing substances unfit for human consumption, and endangering human health. The fraudulent products displayed labels of well-known alcoholic beverage brands.
Country of origin food fraud is not uncommon. In this latest case, involving a well-known Italian company, tomato products from outside of Europe were sold as 100% Italian, leading to the confiscation of 4000 tons of products. Country of Origin laws are taken very seriously in Italy and the EU, as can be seen in the EU Regulation 775/2018 Country of Origin labeling law, also known as COOL.
Italy’s Guardia di Finanz (GDF) had a case of wine fraud essentially fall into their lap when a crate of fake prestigious Tuscan wine was found at the side of a road. Scammers repackaged and mislabeled cheap wine that would have fetched almost half a million dollars in revenue. The fraud was carried out with a high level of sophistication, including identical labels, bottle caps, bottle wrappers and wooden crates, and the wine was already reserved by customers in several countries.
Kiwis are popular in France; they are one of the top 10 fruit consumed. France has only a fraction of the number of kiwi growers compared to Italy. French kiwis are 40% more expensive than Italian fruit, making it worthwhile to fraudulently change the country of origin. A sudden flood of “French” kiwis on the market at the end of the French kiwi season caught the attention of investigators, and 12% of these kiwis were discovered to originate from Italy. The fraud netted several million Euros in additional profit for the involved Italian kiwi producers. What is especially concerning is that the fruit was treated with products that are banned in France to increase the yield.
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