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Successful conviction on edible oil adulteration
2009-03-28

A successful conviction in the South African food industry for selling diluted olive oil under the guise of virgin olive oil was handed down in the Special Commercial Crimes Court in Durban this week.

Salvatore Pollizi, owner of the company Ital Distributors, pleaded guilty in terms of Section 105A of the Crime Prosecuting Act to selling fake virgin olive oil under the names of Antico Frantoio and Ulivo.

He was sentenced to a fine of R250 000 or three years’ imprisonment, of which R130 000 or 18 months imprisonment is suspended for five years, on condition that he is not found guilty of fraud or theft or an attempt to commit such crimes during the period of suspension.

The offence was committed in 2001 when the scandal involving olive oil being mixed with a cheaper edible oil and being sold as the more expensive virgin olive oil was uncovered by scientists from the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein, in collaboration with Mr Guido Costas, The Olive Growers’ Association, AgriInspec and the South African Police Services.

According to Prof. Lodewyk Kock, Head of the South African Fryer Oil Initiative (SAFOI) that is based at the UFS, the conviction is to his knowledge the first successful conviction of this kind in the South African food industry.

Prof. Kock said, “The court’s decision on Monday, 23 March 2009 is good news to our country and sends out a dire warning to all fraudsters in the food industry.”

He attributed the successful conviction to the active and enthusiastic participation by Advocate Joanna Bromley-Gans from the Special Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU) in Durban, Captain Pragasen Govender from the Serious Economic Offences Unit (SEOU) in Pretoria and the team from SAFOI.

Prof. Kock said that in 2003 some of the prominent members of the edible oil industry took responsibility for the authenticity of their own oils by appointing outside laboratories for routine monitoring.

In some cases a seal of approval from such laboratories is displayed on the monitored oil containers. This is an attempt to inform oil distributors, shop buyers and consumers that these oils have been monitored by an outside laboratory for authenticity.

This “policing” has been supported by major role players in the fast-food sector like Nando’s, Spur, Captain Dorego’s, King Pie Holdings, etc. and various oil distributors like Felda Bridge Africa, Willowton Oil & Cake Mills, Refill Oils, etc.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel:  051 401 2584
Cell:  083 645 2454
E-mail:  loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
27 March 2009




 

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