A TRIO of Andalucian businessmen are facing a combined sentence of 27 years in jail for passing off sunflower oil as extra virgin olive oil.
The three men from Cordoba are also facing fines of up to 26,000 euros for claiming that their mixture of 80 per cent sunflower/20 per cent olive oil was pure olive.
The group also added E141 – a food additive not approved for use in cooking oils – for colour enhancement.
According to the prosecution, the men sold hundreds of thousands of litres of the adulterated oil, between early 2005 and mid-2006 from their businesses in Lucena, Baena and Espejo.
Five-litre metal and plastic containers of the oil were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants, and individual consumers across Andalucia, Valencia and Catalonia.
The case comes after a national investigation, ‘Operation Cholesterol,’ was launched in 2006, following complaints of suspected olive oil fraud later proven in testing by regional authorities.