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Italian 'organic' food fraud hits German market

The Local · 8 Dec 2011, 15:30

Published: 08 Dec 2011 15:30 GMT+01:00

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Italian authorities said they had busted a scheme in which more than 700,000 tonnes of non-organic food was sold as organic – and sold at the higher prices commanded by such products, making at least €220 million profit, the Tageszeitung newspaper reported this week.

Authorities say at least 543 tonnes of wrongly-labelled grains made it onto the German market – mostly soy beans, which are used to make tofu, as well as being fed to animals.

Germany’s biggest organic food traders Dennree and Alnatura told the newspaper they did not think they were affected, but the paper said it could take a long time until all the products fraudulently sold to be identified.

Police in Italy arrested seven suspects allegedly connected to the fraud on Tuesday and are investigating 13 more as well as confiscating tonnes of goods including fruit, soy beans and wheat suspected of being fraudulently labelled.

Italy is one of the biggest points of origin for imported fresh food products in Germany. And consumers are often willing to pay significantly more for food with an organic label – certified as being produced without additives and chemicals which many people consider harmful. The market for such food is worth more than €3 billion in Germany.

German authorities said they were trying to get information about where in Germany the food had been sent.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection said European governments were working to figure out what happened and added: “We and the competent authorities take this case of false labelling of organic products very seriously.”

Story continues below…

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:44 December 8, 2011 by catjones
This is a story about the ones who got caught. Adding sugar to wine, mixing bio with non-bio...in the end, the consumer can't tell the difference, so it's all based on trust and then, even the big guys get tricked. Bio lawsuits?
22:46 December 8, 2011 by vonSchwerin
Thanks, Italy. First, you falsify your data for admission to the Euro. Now you falsify your organic/Bio credentials.
11:57 December 9, 2011 by AlexR

"Thanks, Italy. First, you falsify your data for admission to the Euro. Now you falsify your organic/Bio credentials."

Yes but they gave us pizza and pasta without which half of the Germans and all of the students would have been starving to death.
03:46 December 10, 2011 by boopsie
Its all about money and the dishonest things dishonest people are willing to do to cheat the gullible bio faithful out of their hard earned money. I'm afraid its the human condition.
13:24 December 19, 2011 by ELYBIO
The Italians were dishonest, I agree but I'm sure that also the German buyers agreed with it. Impossible to sell 500.000 tons of goods and nobody did analysis on it?

They all did money...

For MR @vonSchwerin : thank you Germany for selling us blue mozzarella, you ruines the Spanish market of organic veg last year because of the story of cucumber with E: Coli and it was your fault...
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