A new special investigative report on 60 Minutes delves into an issue of corruption far away from the banks of Wall Street: olive oil fraud. The special divulges exactly how the Italian mafia has been controlling and corrupting the olive oil industry, as well as wine and cheese. The “Extra Virgin: Made in Italy” label on your bottle of high-end olive oil may be useless because so much of imported Italian olive oil has been doctored and cheapened by the mob to turn a quick profit.
“You in many cases are getting lower grade olive oil that has been blended with some good extra virgin olive oil… you’re sometimes getting deodorized oil,” Tom Mueller, the author of the Extra Virginity exposé says in the 60 Minutes special. “They blend it with some oil that has some character to give it a little color, a little flavor… and they sell that as extra virgin. It’s illegal — it happens all the time.”
Counterfeiting olive oil is apparently a pretty simple process that involves diluting the original olive oil with odorless and colorless sunflower oil, and adding a few drops of chlorophyll.
Sicilian olive oil producer, Nicola Clemenza, is leading a 200-farmer uprising against mafia control in the region, according to the Olive Oil Times.
“On the day I started the consortium, they burned my car, they burned down part of my home and I was inside with my wife and my daughter,” he said.