Blog: Big cheese Mandara in pizza trouble

Michelle Russell | 18 July 2012

It seems mozzarella tycoon Giuseppe Mandara has found himself in spot of bother after being arrested with three associates near Naples in Italy yesterday (17 July).

The man who once dubbed himself the "Armani of mozzarella" is accused of producing counterfeit cheese and receiving money from the Camorra mafia, according to reports.

Mandara is understood to have been collaborating with the Casalesi clan of the Naples-based Camorra mafia, and allegedly mixing cow's milk with more expensive buffalo milk - a key ingredient in the trademark soft white cheese - and passing off batches of provolone cheese as being of a more superior quality with false labelling, The Daily Telegraph has reported.

His Mandara Group, a major global exporter of mozzarella sold by large chains in Europe, the US and Japan, is said to have received "significant" injections of cash from the Camorra mafia, the organised crime group based in Campania, the region where mozzarella is produced.

This, however, isn't the first scandal to hit the mozzarella industry in recent years.

In 2010, Italian authorities issued a Europe-wide alert over possible contamination of mozzarella after balls of the cheese turned blue, according to the Telegraph. Two years earlier, a police investigation found some cheese to have been made with milk contaminated by dioxins, resulting in some countries suspending imports of buffalo mozzarella.

Mandara, who in 2010 reportedly said his company produced 78,000 cheeses a day and employed 180 people, was shown being led away by police puffing what may be his last cigar for a while.


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