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Learning English - Words in the News
27 October, 2008 - Published 12:11 GMT
Italy olive oil police
Olive oils

A crack Italian police squad has been drafted into the battle against fraudulent olive oil producers. Olive oil is the latest food scare to hit Italy, after wine and mozzarella. The BBC's Mark Duff is in Milan from where he has sent this report:

Listen to the story

Twenty officers from the specialist food piracy branch of the paramilitary Carabinieri have just graduated as olive oil tasters. They've been trained to distinguish between top class extra virgin olive oil - that's unrefined, cold-pressed and expensive - and cheaper, adulterated stuff that's been diluted with poorer quality olive oil or other vegetable oils. They'll also be able to pick up subtle differences between oil produced in different regions of Italy and abroad.

The deployment of the unit comes months after Italian police uncovered the biggest olive oil fraud in a decade. Seven processing plants were seized - along with 25,000 litres of adulterated oil - and 39 people were arrested in an operation stretching from Bari and Naples in the south to Milan in the north. The suspects were accused of mixing olive oil with sunflower and soybean oils, then selling it on as top grade extra virgin oil.

Italy is the world's second biggest producer of olive oil after Spain - although production was down 15 per cent last year.

Mark Duff, BBC News, Milan

Listen to the words

specialist food piracy branch
a unit that deals only with cases where someone illegally pretends to be selling high quality food which in truth is of poor quality

formally trained

to distinguish
here, to taste the difference

made less pure (by adding low quality or unsuitable substances to it)

to pick up subtle differences
to notice/taste the differences that are not obvious/easily noticeable

positioning and making ready for action

when someone obtains money by deceiving people

covering the area; that took place in many towns and areas

selling it on
selling it to another person, firm or organisation

top grade
of excellent quality

To take away
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