Italy’s inspectorate for the protection, quality and the repression of fraud in agriculture and food requested that the product be removed from Harrods’ shelves as the label bore explicit references to Tuscan olive oil, which is protected under EU law.
The marketing of the oil was in violation of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), a certification which guarantees that the olives are grown, pressed and bottled in the central Italian region.
In a statement from the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (ICQRF), minister Maurizio Martina described the decision to suspend the sale of the oil as testament to “Italy’s strong commitment in the fight against counterfeiting”.
“The protection and the promotion of the authentic ‘Made in Italy’ [brand] in the world is an absolute priority of this government, as well as a strategic mission for the national economy,” he said.
“The result, then,” said the minister, “is further confirmation of the importance of European laws and our ability to ask for their correct application in the [European] Community.”
He added that the counterfeiting of Italian products “puts at risk the credibility gained by products which have become a symbol of Made in Italy quality, thanks to the work of generations of farmers and dairymen committed to comply with strict discipline”.
Martina also thanked DEFRA, the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for its “swift and efficient” collaboration.
This isn’t the first food scandal involving Italy and the UK to hit headlines in recent months.
Last week Italy asked EU competition ministers to evaluate the effects of a UK food labelling system, designed to fight obesity, is having on its famed food products.
In January Italian MP Colomba Mongiello called the US a country of "junk food" where the "importance of quality food is not understood" after a story in the New York Times claimed the majority of olive oil sold in the US is fake.