Posted: 03/04/2019

“The Slow Food snail will be chuffed that fake olive oil looks set to be a thing of the past”

View from HQ
John Farrand, managing director

And finally, it happened. We’d got through 35½ hours of our 36-hour World Cheese Awards recce to Bergamo, host city for 2019, and then he said it. Brexit. What if?  How? Can we? Should we? 

It then became really quite real, after months of being fairly blasé about the whole thing. How could little ol’ WCA plan and navigate its way through this minefield when the leading minds of political Europe were struggling.

That’s just it, isn’t it? None of us knows what on earth is going to happen over the next day, week or couple of months. And that’s been the case since 23rd June 2016 (yes, really). The uncertainty, the not knowing and the negotiations set at the progress of a snail must come to an end soon. Surely?

The Slow Food snail will be chuffed with reports that, unlike Fake News, fake olive oil looks set to be a thing of the past. I was shocked to read on the plane to Bergamo that mafia dudes gain a margin three times higher on rip-off olive oil than on cocaine.  

To combat this, boffins at the University of California, Riverside, have developed software that can produce a “chronoprint” signature of expensive liquids by rapidly reducing their temperature using liquid nitrogen. We in the deli trade have long heard rumours of hooky EVOO, especially in years of poor harvest. The last such annus horribilis was 2016, when a reported 7,000 tonnes of blended North African oils, destined to dilute the more expensive stuff, were seized by the Italian authorities. 

The other horror is that allergens such as peanut oil have been used to bulk out EVOO for similar dodgy profiteering. That could, as Pret a Manger know, be fatal.

What should we be doing in fine food? Be vigilant. Be loyal to a good supplier and avoid anyone knocking on your shop door with a boot load of “unwanted olive oil”.  

It’s all adds grist to the mill (or olive press) of initiatives such as Happerley, which is making headway in ensuring the products we buy and sell have genuine provenance. Its ultimate vision is that each and every jar, bottle or packet in your shop should be Happerley endorsed, with every ingredient having its origin identified. Impressive – as long, of course, as it also boasts a Great Taste logo to assure you it’s worth eating, as well as worthy.

To read more opinions from John click here

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