The article does not mention any victims or deceased individuals. : 11 Arrests Made and 260,000 Liters of Counterfeit Olive Oil Seized in European Probe

Death – Obituary – Accident and Crime News : Eleven individuals have been arrested and a staggering 260,000 liters of counterfeit olive oil have been seized as a result of a probe into fraudulent oils. This investigation was supported by Europol and conducted as part of Operation Opson, which was initiated by the Spanish Civil Guard and the Italian Carabinieri.

Authorities discovered that the suspects had been diluting their olive oil with lampante oil, a lower-quality variant, and then selling it as virgin or extra virgin oil. In addition to this fraudulent practice, the suspects are also accused of falsifying documents. Lampante olive oil, known for its elevated acidity levels, undesirable flavor, and unpleasant odor, is deemed unsuitable for consumption.

The investigation, known as Operation Omegabad, involved law enforcement officials from Spain and Italy. In November, various locations were searched, leading to the questioning of six suspects and the seizure of 12 barrels containing the adulterated oil. Additionally, officers confiscated four vehicles and €91,000 ($98,500) in cash, along with digital and physical evidence such as billing documents and emails.

The fraudulent activity came to light when the Guardia Civil discovered anomalies during an inspection of a tanker transporting olive oil in Manzanares. This finding prompted further inquiries, ultimately uncovering a network involved in the distribution of adulterated olive oil.

In Italy, investigators focused their efforts on three oil factories suspected of engaging in illegal practices. Several documents and client lists were obtained, oil samples were collected, and one company was sanctioned for irregular labeling of products.

Europol attributed the increase in fraudulent olive oil production to various factors, including inflated prices, reduced olive oil production, and growing demand. Mixing lower-grade alternatives with consumer-grade olive oil allowed the alleged criminals to offer competitive prices while infiltrating legal supply chains. This deceptive practice not only poses health risks to the public but also undermines consumer trust, leading to further economic repercussions.

While cases of fraud in the fats and oils industry decreased compared to the previous year, the European Union’s Alert and Cooperation Network report for 2022 highlighted violations of marketing standards for olive oil. The most common violation involved the misrepresentation of olive oil as extra virgin, suggesting a higher quality product.

In Brazil, authorities recently uncovered fraudulent olive oil in the state of Paraná. During an inspection at a supermarket in November, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock seized 9,000 bottles of olive oil falsely labeled as extra virgin from Spain. Lab analysis revealed that the product was actually soybean oil, posing a health risk to consumers.

Similar incidents occurred in São Paulo, where over 6,000 bottles of counterfeit olive oil were seized, and 16,380 liters of imported olive oil were destroyed due to adulteration and being considered unfit for consumption. The most common form of fraud involved the mixing of soybean oil with artificial substances.

Kleber Basso from the Regional Service for Advanced Inspection and Combating Fraud Operations (SERFIC) at Mapa emphasized the importance of combating counterfeit olive oil due to the potential health risks it poses to consumers. Inspections are regularly conducted to ensure the authenticity and food safety of this product.

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