The AgroMafia: Making you an olive oil you can’t refuse

Last week’s 60 Minutes’ feature story exposed the highly profitable and expansive reach of the “Agromafia” and their odious practice of diluting and adulterating highly prized Italian extra virgin olive oils.  The extra virgin olive oil is diluted with odorless and colorless seed oils, such as sunflower or canola, rendering the once exquisite oil to dreck.  And, unfortunately, this dreck represents an estimated 75-80% of the Italian extra virgin olive oils exported to the United States.  Aside from the obvious fraud, the insidious presence of these unlabeled seed oils present a hidden danger to anyone with seed allergies.

Tuscan olive tree photo by David Eisner-Kleyle Director of Operations, VFUSA

Tuscan olive tree photo by
David Eisner-Kleyle
Director of Operations, VFUSA

Here at vomFASS we took this story very seriously.  Two of our most popular extra virgin olive oils, Pepone and San Gimignano, are Italian.  In order to assure our customers that our exquisite oils are not tainted by this international scandal, we spoke directly to David Eisner-Kleyle, Director of Operations, VFUSA.

Toni Jakovec: Thank you for taking time to discuss this disturbing story.  What can you tell us about our Italian producers and the safeguards vomFASS has in place to protect the supply chain?

David Eisner-Kleyle:  Absolutely.  I have visited the producers for both our Pepone and San Gimignano olive oils, and the supply chain is slightly different with each oil.  The Pepone olive oil is pressed directly at the farm, immediately after harvest, and sealed into one of our containers at their family owned facility. The San Gimignano olives are harvested at the farm; delivered directly to the co-op who presses the olives and immediately deposits the oil into our patented, vacuum sealed, tamper resistant containers.  These containers are not opened until they have reached their final destination at one of our vomFASS shops in the US.

TJ:  What qualifies an olive oil to be considered “extra virgin”?

DEK:  The olives must be of the first pressing, mechanically cold-pressed where the temperature is very closely monitored, ultimately with less than 1% acidity per volume.  vomFASS’ oils are even more stringently monitored as we require the olives be pressed within 24 hours of the harvest.  This time requirement keeps everything local allowing no opportunity for tampering.

TJ:  How is this process monitored to guarantee authenticity of vomFASS oils?

DEK:   One very important monitor is that both of our Tuscan oils, the Pepone and the San Gimignano have Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP= protected geographical information) status. The IGP imprimatur guarantees a product originating from a region or a country whose quality, recipe and characteristics can be traced back to its geographical origin. At least one production and/or processing phase must take place in the designated origin of production for the product to qualify.

TJ:  To complete our vomFASS supply chain, who’s monitoring the producers?

DEK:  At this point, we monitor the producers.  Our food scientist, Stefan Buggle is the critical eye for vomFASS always testing and assuring that our products are pure and of the highest quality.  This monitoring guarantees that no heat has been used in the pressing and no chemicals have been added to increase yield, both of which are common practices outside of vomFASS.

Stefan Buggle vomFASS Food Scientist monitoring the San Gimignano extra virgin olive oil production.

Stefan Buggle
vomFASS Food Scientist
monitoring the San Gimignano extra virgin olive oil production.

TJ:  Would you also explain the importance of the olive oil bags that vomFASS uses to insure quality?

DEK:  This is a critically important aspect of the vomFASS supply chain.  The product is packaged in those bags at the point of production, when they are permanently sealed.  These bags are then never opened until at their final destination when they are punctured and placed within the unique vomFASS amphora.  These bags include both production information and specific batch information.  The vomFASS supply chain consists of only four steps:  from farm to producer to vomFASS warehouse to vomFASS store.  There is never a break in our supply chain, reducing the opportunity of tampering to zero.

TJ:  Thanks for sharing your expertise.  I am confident that you have dispelled any doubts our partners and customers may have had about the authenticity of vomFASS olive oils after watching that surprising 60 Minutes exposé.

For the eye-opening 60 Minutes segment we discussed, click on http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-agromafia-food-fraud/

Join our Salad-a-Day campaign by “Liking” your favorite vomFASS store’s Facebook page (eg link: Facebook)

Chef Kevin’s Quinoa Salad
Toni Jakovec January 8, 2016
"quinoaIngredients: (Serves 4)

For the Quinoa Salad:

  • 2½ cups cooked quinoa (light & fluffy – I use pasta method or a professional rice cooker)
  • ½ cup carrots, finely diced or grated
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup toasted pistachios
  • 2 T. parsley, freshly chopped

For the Dressing:

Directions:

  1. Gently toss quinoa, carrots, scallions, dried fruit and parsley until lightly coated with dressing – do not overdress!. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. If time, allow to sit for 30 minutes, taste again and re-season.  Top with nuts and serve.

PRINT RECIPE

 

See Cooking Videos

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.