Scientists help convict olive oil fakers

University of Free State (UFS) scientists have contributed to the successful conviction of a manufacturer for selling diluted olive oil under the guise of virgin olive oil.

Salvatore Pollizi, owner of the company, Ital Distributors, pleaded guilty in the Special Commercial Crimes Court in Durban to selling fake virgin olive oil under the names of Antico Frantoio and Ulivo.

The offence was committed in 2001, when the scandal involving olive oil being mixed with a cheaper edible oil and being sold as the more expensive virgin olive oil was uncovered by scientists from UFS in Bloemfontein, in collaboration with Guido Costas of the Olive Growers’ Association, AgriInspec and the police.

Professor Lodewyk Kock, head of the South African Fryer Oil Initiative based at UFS, believes the conviction is the first successful one of its kind in the South African food industry.

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