The buffalo mozzarella industry is worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year in Italy, and a criminal ring was just uncovered trying to grab a piece of that when Italian police busted a factory producing fake buffalo mozzarella cheese.
According to The Local, the 13 people busted were put under house arrest on Monday. Police say they caught them mixing imported and Italian cow and buffalo milk to make their ersatz cheese. They also avoided testing by health authorities.
Police say milk samples from the factory had more than 2,000 times the allowed level of bacteria for producing buffalo mozzarella. The factory and all points of sale were immediately shut down as well, with prosecutor Raffaella Capasso saying the phony cheese was “potentially harmful to public health.”
Before the factory was caught, its fake mozzarella actually went out with the prestigious Protected Designation of Origin label, indicating it was some of the Campania region’s protected cheese.