A huge food fraud scandal has been uncovered in Italy, involving million of euros worth of grapes used to make fraudulent balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar of Modena is a location-protected food item under EU regulations, which means in order to bear the name, the grapes used in production must be sourced from several very specific places in Italy.
But Italian authorities discovered recently that "table grapes" were in fact being sold to some companies producing traditional balsamic vinegar.
Launching an investigation, dubbed Operation Global Wine, authorities eventually seized more than 9,000 tonnes of grape must and wine products, worth around €15 million.
"Copius commercial documentation" was also recovered as evidence.
Italian Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio thanked investigators in a statement for "defending the good name of our products and guarantee the safety and quality of our Made in Italy excellences."
While balsamic vinegar can be brought for cheap prices in most local supermarkets, some traditional and authentic vinegars can reach into the hundreds of euros.
Italy is no stranger to dealing with cases of food fraud. In the first half of 2018, the EU found that Italy had by far the largest number of reports on fraudulent food cases.