Mozzarella Arrests: Illegally Diluted Cheese Shuts Down Italian Factory

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:29 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Mozzarella arrests shut down an Italian cheese factory recently after inspectors discovered the facility was using imported cow milk, which is less expensive, to dilute its much-prized buffalo milk mozzarella.

In total, 13 people were arrested at the mozzarella facility near the southern Italian town of Caserta, according to Carabinieri Police Maj. Alfonso Pannone. In addition to the illegal dilution of the cheese, the mozzarella also allegedly contained as much as 20 times more than the permissible levels of bacteria, The Associated Press reported.

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Milky white buffalo mozzarella is prized by Italians and tourists, and carries a special label supposed to guarantee quality and protect its reputation, the AP noted.

The probe into the factory was initiated after a factory employee lost their finger earlier in the year due to safety issues. In addition to the factory employees, two public health service veterinarians were also arrested for having allegedly tipped off the facility to upcoming inspections.

In addition to the arrests and factory closure, Italian authorities also shut down seven stores that were selling the cheese across the Campania region, which includes Naples, the AP reported.

This isn't the first time mozzarella has recently made news in Italy.

In January, a school teacher turned blue after eating mozzarella, UPI.com reported.

Several months earlier, a Genoa elementary school stopped serving lunch after they found the mozzarella in school lunches had turned blue. The bluish discoloration was reportedly caused by yeast. Authorities subsequently concluded that the blue mozzarella posed no health risk to people, UPI.com noted.

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