Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Questionable Virginity

article in this week's New Yorker magazine by Tom Mueller digs into the widespread problem of Italian olive oil adulteration - and downright counterfeiting. Lamp oil masquerades as 'extra-virgin', hazelnut oil as olive. As the number of food contamination and adulteration instances increases, this one is particularly interesting - as it has been going on for years ... thousands of years, in fact.

Amphorae from 211AD show evidence of extensive anti-fraud measures: each was painted with the exact weight of oil it contained, along with the name of the farm where the olives were pressed, the merchant who shipped the oil, and the official who verified this information before shipment.

So it seems that ePedigree and food traceability is not a new thing. In fact, it looks like the ancient Romans took more steps to prevent fraud that the Italians do today.