Mafia blamed for toxic wine

Italian wine containing poisonous substances has been released onto the market supposedly by the Italian mafia.

by: AFP | 14 Apr 2008

Italy has produced and sold at least 70 million litres of cheap wine containing acid, manure and fertiliser, Italian weekly L'Espresso reported. Organised crime in the south has been blamed.

Bottles sold at less than two euros a litre contained very little wine, and a potentially deadly concoction of water and chemical substances, including hydrochloric acid.

L'Espresso said 20 companies were currently being investigated. In southern Italy, two companies based in Taranto and run by the local Sacra Corona Unita mafia were the main source of the bootleg beverage.

Despite a recent crackdown, many bottles of the tainted wine are still being sold, L'Espresso said. It added that it found a whole stack in a shopping centre in northeast Italy.

In a statement Agriculture Minister Paolo De Castro described the Italian wine industry as dynamic and healthy, insisting that habitual wrongdoers known to the police "would not ruin the image of an entire economic sector".

The agriculture ministry, which neither confirmed nor denied L'Espresso findings and said that enquiries had allowed the government to protect consumers and to distinguish genuine producers from criminals.

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