Italian investigators have identified a huge food fraud scandal involving balsamic vinegar.
Grape must and wine products worth €15m (£12.9m), as well as numerous documents showing how provenance and authenticity credentials were falsified, were seized, according to reports in the Grocer and the Guardian.
The fraudsters are suspected of “using lower grade grapes to make products”, which are then passed off as authentic. There are three protected balsamic vinegars, two under the EU’s PDO (protected designation of origin) scheme and one under the PGI status (protected geographical indication).
"Our control system is recognised as one of the best in the world and, once again, we have demonstrated it,” said Italy’s agriculture minister Gian Marco Centinaio. A
A report by the FT last year highlighted how the so-called “agromafia” business now accounts for 15% of total estimated Mafia turnover. “They are now inserted in the industry from field to fork,” said an expert at the Rome-based think-tank, the Observatory of Crime in Agriculture and the Food Chain.
The Food Standards Agency told iNews that its National Food Crime Unit was monitoring the situation, but “there is no indication of UK criminality at this stage”.