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Farm groups say New York Times damaged olive oil image

Feature in newspaper 'throws mud' on production from Italy

29 January, 16:37
Farm groups say New York Times damaged olive oil image (ANSA) - Rome, January 29 - A recent interactive feature in the New York Times about low-quality olive oil has damaged the Italian industry's image in the United States, two farm organizations complained Wednesday. The feature in the American newspaper demonstrated how much oil labeled as Made in Italy is actually lower-quality product from countries including Greece, Spain and Tunisia and may at times be contaminated by careless handling.

That has damaged exports to the United States from Italian producers, who have seen their exports fall by 13%, "partly due to scams that target producers who are repeatedly criticized by the American press," Coldiretti said in a statement.

It has called for better protection of the good name of Italian products, which it said was promised in a law passed in Feburary 2013 with the goal of ensuring "the authenticity and transparency of Italian production".

But "inertia" on the part of the public administrator has meant the law has not yet been fully implemented.

Falling demand from the US has pushed down olive oil exports by 9%, said the farm group. Another agriculture organization, the Italian Farmers Confederation (CIA), said the New York Times feature was "an insult to the image of typical Italian extra-virgin olive oil," and "only throws mud".

A report last month by Italian environmentalists and consumer groups showed the market in counterfeit Italian food is doing brisk business, including adulterated oil.