Consumer watchdog Stiftung Warentest took 30 brands of pesto from German shops and had a very close look, deeming just three of them acceptable enough for its “good” label, Die Welt newspaper said.
Not a single one achieved the top “excellent” mark and one in three was slapped with the label “poor”.
Five of the six pestos labelled “Genovese” – considered the most traditional variety – contained cheap variations from the traditional recipie. Sunflower oil instead of olive oil, cashews instead of pine kernels and potato or wheat instead of Parmesan were all spotted.
One particularly expensive brand was even, Stiftung Warentest found, contaminated with bacteria – despite being sealed in a jar. Another contained shreds of bamboo while other brands simply tasted bad.
In one Swiss organic variety, the watchdog found levels of the potentially cancer-causing chemical anthraquinone that were 80 times higher than allowed by law. The chemical is banned as a pesticide in the EU.