Greek police arrest 7 for selling bogus olive oil — A Greek prosecutor on Sunday charged seven people for fraudulently selling large quantities of adulterated sunflower oil as olive oil in Greece and abroad.

The seven were arrested near the city of Larissa, in the Greek province of Thessaly, about 150 kilometres south of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, by the financial crimes squad of northern Greek police.

They were found operating a workshop where they added a dye to turn the yellow sunflower seed oil into a green hue resembling olive oil.

The adulterated oil was sold in five-litre cans, off-market, to Greek consumers and exported, in one-ton pallets, mainly to Germany.

Police found on the premises five tons of adulterated oil ready for packaging and 12 pallets ready for export. They also found a fleet of luxury cars, hence the charge of money laundering.

The product was peddled as “extra-virgin olive oil, straight from the producer.” Its domestic price was 12-15 euros  per five-litre can, compared to the retail price of 26-30 euros  for the real thing.

Police first became aware of the widespread sale of adulterated oil about two years ago, when legitimate olive oil producers informed the Hellenic Food Authority, the state agency that sets quality standards for foods, that their unique producer codes were turning up on products not sold by them.

Police say the adulterated oil was exported, to EU countries, using invoices that were later destroyed.

Food Authority officials said that they had tested the dye and found that an earlier version used contained substances that can cause cancer. They added that a later dye was a safe, widely available product.