• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Mafia's grip on Italian food 'jeopardizes safety'

AFP · 19 Mar 2014, 14:27

Published: 19 Mar 2014 14:27 GMT+01:00

"The agriculture and food sectors have become priority investment areas for organised crime groups," said Roberto Moncalvo, head of the Coldiretti association.

He called it "a strategic move in times of crisis because they have understood that, as bad as it gets, nobody can do without food."

Coldiretti estimates mafia groups took in around €14 billion last year from agricultural rackets, an increase of 12 percent from 2012.

According to the anti-mafia unit in Rome, around 15 percent of turnover in the agriculture sector is linked to criminal activities.

Coldiretti said crime groups "control in many regions the distribution, and sometimes even production, of milk, meat, mozzarella, coffee, fruit and vegetables."

They also run around 5,000 bars and restaurants - from pizzerias to ice-cream parlours - in Italy, mostly under dummy corporations.

The industry association said gangsters use extortion and intimidation to gain monopolies over products, force farmers to sell at low prices, as well as pressing businesses to buy their items and launder money.

Crime groups also tamper with ingredients and illegally butcher meat, it added.

Tampering with ingredients or swapping them for inferior ones in food then sold throughout Italy and Europe "seriously jeopardizes the quality and security of products," said Coldiretti.

The association noted a 14 percent increase in food safety alerts since the start of the economic crisis, to 534 warnings last year.

Story continues below…

The initiative includes a group to help implement better monitoring of farm and food safety, as well as aid investigations into criminal infiltrations and contraband products.

Coldiretti said it would also produce a yearly "agromafia" report and collaborate with national and international anti-mafia organisations on breaking the grip of criminal groups on the agricultural sector.

Don't miss a story about Italy - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italy has 'no banking problem': finance minister
"All the countries should relax: there is no Italian banking problem," Padoan said. Photo: AFP

Italy does not have a problem with its banks, finance minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Sunday, despite investors fretting about nearly $400 billion of bad debts weighing down the sector.

Pope Francis visits Poland amid security concerns
"Refugees? The pope will say something on that," Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican ambassador to Poland said. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis lands in Poland on Wednesday amid heavy security for an international Catholic youth festival where he is expected to make the case for welcoming refugees, a thorny issue for Warsaw.

Italy hosts first Down's Syndrome 'Olympics'
The athletes taking part are dubbed T21s, named after the most common form of Down's Syndrome, trisomy 21. Photo: AFP

The roar from the stands in Florence could not have been louder if it had been stars Usain Bolt or Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on the track.

Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Milan is vying to be Europe's post-Brexit financial and business hub. Photo: Melanie Bowman

Milan has also joined the race among European cities to pick up the post-Brexit spoils should London’s financial institutions choose to shift their operations elsewhere. But is it a viable contender?

Ekberg wannabe says Trevi dip was a 'homage to Rome'
Delilah Jay just before she waded into Rome's Trevi Fountain on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of Delilah Jay

“I love Rome, I love Fellini and I love Ekberg – I’ve had so many comments on my Facebook page saying I look very much like her.”

Venice to build new bridge in memory of Bataclan victim
28-year-old student Valeria Solesin was the only Italian victim of the Paris terrorist attacks. Photo: Pierre Teyssot / AFP

Venice, the so-called 'city of bridges', is set to build one more, in honour of the only Italian victim of last November's Paris terrorist attacks.

Italy fears 'Calais-style' camps as migrant backlog worsens
There are 135,000 people waiting in Italian reception centres. Photo: Giovanni Isolino/AFP

Italy is scrambling to find extra places for incoming migrants amid fears the failure of a European relocation plan may result in mass encampments.

Italy to start performing civil unions from mid-August
Italy became the last major country in Europe to recognize same-sex civil unions in May. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

Same-sex couples in Italy will finally have the chance to say “I do” from mid-August onwards, Italy's Interior Ministry announced on Thursday.

Italian mayor says sorry for Keita Balde racism
Keita Balde, a Senegalese born in Spain, is one of several black players in Italy's Serie A to have faced racist abuse in the past. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

"Sport is about passion, sharing and friendship. I'm sorry to hear, as the mayor and a sportsman, that some people last night embarrassed the whole city and, in particular, the real fans at the stadium."

Rescue boats recover 17 migrant bodies off Italy
The latest arrivals take the number of migrants to have landed in Italy this year to over 80,000. Photo: Giovanni Isolino/AFP

Since 2014, more than 10,000 migrants have died or are feared to have drowned while attempting the perilous journey to Europe by sea.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,559
jobs available