You'd think cold-pressed Tuscan extra virgin olive oil sold by Harrods was the genuine thing. Especially if Harrods is charging almost £13 for a 500ml bottle. But Harrods has been forced to withdraw its own-brand oil after Italian government officials discovered it was bottled in the UK - and therefore could be 'fake'.
Not all oils are equalThe posh retailer was caught out when Italian officials bought a bottle of the Harrods oil, then contacted the UK food and farming government department DEFRA with their concerns. For genuine Tuscan accreditation, olive oil produced in Tuscany must be grown, pressed and bottled in Tuscany.
The last bit proved a little slippery for Harrods. Harrods has apologised but claims its oil is genuine and from the Maremma region in Tuscany. "It was brought to our attention that in order for the product to be labelled 'Tuscan' the bottling process must also take place in Tuscany. We are investigating this oversight with our supplier."
The Italians are increasingly sensitive on protecting and promoting home-grown products. "Protecting and promoting genuine Italian products around the world is an absolute priority for this government, and a strategic mission for the Italian economy", said newly appointed agriculture minister, Maurizio Martina, quoted by Italian website courier.it
Big marketHowever there's growing worry about the ease by which goods that don't meet tight certification standards are slipping into the UK. Recently accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers claimed fake goods "have gone mainstream".
Global sales of knock-off goods are thought to be worth as much as $650bn a year - from iPhones to car parts to designer bags and luxury food. PwC claimed Northern Ireland was the knock-off capital of the UK regions in Counterfeit Goods in the UK –Who is buying what, and why? published in October.
Part of the rise in knock-off goods is down to a tougher economic climate - but also the rise in internet shopping, making it easier to disguise the full traceability of a product.