Extra-virgin olive oil, which comes from the first pressing of the olive harvest, is prized by chefs and food lovers across the globe for its rich, fruity flavor and vibrant green color. But there's currently a dark shadow hanging over Italy's lucrative olive oil industry: fraud. CBS's 60 Minutes recently explored how the olive oil business has been corrupted by the Mafia; it's so widespread — bringing in an estimated $16 billion a year— that Italians have a special word for it, Agromafia.
It's estimated that as much as 80 percent of extra-virgin olive oil sold in the States doesn't meet the legal requirements to actually be called extra-virgin; much of it is diluted with cheaper olive oils from elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and sometimes it's even a cheaper product like sunflower oil that's been colored and scented. Thankfully, 60 Minutes producer Guy Campanile has some tips on how to avoid being duped by pseudo-extra virgin olive oil.
Meanwhile, Italy is waging a major fight against fake extra-virgin olive oil: Last month, Italian authorities busted a gigantic fraud ring based in Puglia that involved 12 different companies.