Greek police arrest seven for alleged olive oil fraud

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Hellenic Police
Picture: Hellenic Police
Greek police have cracked a suspected olive oil adulteration operation and made seven arrests.

The investigation revealed the gang added a dye to make yellow sunflower seed oil simulate the green colour and appearance of olive oil from a base in the region of Larissa.

The Hellenic Police said the organization had been active since at least the beginning of 2015 and adulterated oil was sold under different trade names in domestic and European markets.

greece larissa olive oil 3
Source: The Hellenic Police

They seized almost 3,000 metal containers of 5 litres destined for export to Germany, six cars as well as a number of notes and documents.

Police operation

Examination of samples by the Chemical Service of Central Macedonia revealed they were adulterated.

An operation in Larissa, Thessaloniki, Pieria, Magnesia and Thesprotia last weekend (25 November​) led to the arrest of five men and two women.

Police said depending on the orders they received for olive oil, the members of the organization added pigments to sunflower oil tanks to simulate olive oil.

Adulterated olive oil was put in plastic or metal containers of various sizes with labels referring to areas known for production of high quality olive oil (Crete, Messinia etc) or names referring to indications such as "Extra Virgin Olive Oil" and its properties.

Trade names of oils (Source: EFET)

  • "PAROS"
  • "Karpos"
  • "Λιοτριβειό"
  • "Kriti"
  • "Elias drops"
  • "Ελαιώνας / Eleonas"
  • "CRETA drops"

European distribution

The distribution network included shops (restaurants, convenience stores, mini markets, supermarkets, etc.); retailers who resold to their clientele; by the organization to individual customers for their own use and exports to countries including Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The investigation found that from early September to late November this year the organisation exported to Germany and from there to Belgium and the Netherlands around 100,000 litres of artificially coloured sunflower oil as extra virgin olive oil and estimated profits were €200,000.

Police found 10,380 litres in 5L metal containers alleged as Extra Virgin Olive oil under the trade name "PAROS" and 4,290 litres in a metal container alleged as Extra Virgin Olive Oil under the trade name "Karpos".

EFET (The Hellenic Food Authority) urged consumers in possession of the olive oils not to consume them.

Related topics: Food fraud, Regulation and safety

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1 comment

Why Not Share More Positive News About the Greek Olive Oil World?

Posted by Lisa Radinovsky,

Unfortunately, olive oil is such a valuable and valued commodity that some criminals do seek to exploit the public's desire for its unique flavor and impressive health benefits. However, I find it disturbing to see this article copied and reworked all over the internet, immediately, while dozens of articles about the accomplishments of olive oil producers and companies, the growing number of scientific studies providing evidence that olive oil can help fight off dozens of serious diseases, and so much more positive news about the olive oil world shows up far less frequently. Yes, olive oil fraud is a problem, but no, that fraud does not deserve the prominence it gains when a comparatively small group of criminals takes advantage of consumers, given that hundreds of olive oil companies in Greece alone are working hard to produce an authentic, high quality, healthy product that deserves to be purchased and appreciated. Consumers need to learn how to identify authentic extra virgin olive oil, partly by looking at labels (for the specific place of production and bottling, the harvest date, and the grade, such as extra virgin) and partly by smelling and tasting the oil (to detect a fruity aroma and perhaps something like freshly cut grass or tomato leaves--or many other possibilities depending on the olive variety, but nothing musty or moldy). And if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Buyer, beware—but don’t give up on Greek olive oil because a limited number of criminals commit fraud, any more than you’d give up on great paintings or wines because a limited number of criminals commit fraud. For a broader picture of the news about Greek olive oil, please see Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (www.greekliquidgold.com), which features carefully researched and first-hand reports from the Greek olive oil world. (It does not, however, sell olive oil; it is an informative site.)

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