Counterfeit extra virgin olive oil is a controversial and touchy issue that has plagued unknowing Western customers into purchasing bottles of oil that may not actually contain what’s listed on the bottle. Italy, arguably still the king of olive oil production is looking to crack down on olive oil fraud with a decree that would regulate penalties for counterfeit olive oil, which would likely fine fraudulent producers up to 9,500 Euro ($10,300 USD), and repeat offenders would be forced to stop production for six months.
A certification label would also be added to all bottles of extra virgin olive oil, with a QR code so that customers could track the product back to the producer.
“It is not the moment to lower our guard on fraud and counterfeiting,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told The New York Times. “It is important to punish anyone who damages the image of Italy abroad.”
To olive farmers, oil producers, and lobbyists this measure is not enough, and may actually encourage more criminal activity. The punishment, they claim, for intentionally mislabeling olive oil — according to the piece of legislation as it stands — is not strict enough.
“Much is said about promoting ‘made in Italy,’ but then they try to decriminalize adulterated oil,” Nicola Fazzi, an Italian olive oil producer, told The New York Times.
The Italian government has maintained that the proposed legislation would tighten current fraud laws, not loose restrictions and that “fraudsters will be seriously dealt with.”