Harrods, the London luxury department store owned by Qatar, has been forced to remove a range of Tuscan virgin olive oil after Italian food authorities complained it had actually been bottled in the UK.
Harrods’ branded 'Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil' came under fire from Italian government officials, who travelled to London and lodged an objection with the labelling of the product.
While the bottled oilive oil was made using olives form Tuscan the bottling process was carried out in the UK.
“Labels like that suggest the product's Tuscanness but it was bottled in the UK, as in fact it said on the label, and this contravenes the product protocol laid down by the European Community,” Stefano Vaccari, the Italian inspector who led the case, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail newspaper.
“Protecting and promoting genuine Italian products around the world is an absolute priority for this government, and a strategic mission for the Italian economy,” added Italian agriculture minister Maurizio Martina.
“Defending designations of origin and Italy's heritage of food excellence is the battlefield where, on a daily basis, we deploy the finest supervisory forces available to the ministry. This result is further confirmation of the importance of European laws in this area, and of our ability to demand their proper implementation on EC territory,” he said.
In a statement, Harrods said: “This product was bottled in the UK, which was displayed on the label, however it was brought to our attention that in order for the product to be labelled ‘Tuscan’ the bottling process must also take place in Tuscany. We are investigating this oversight with our supplier.
“The product was immediately removed from our shelves once the issue came to our attention last week. We are now looking to have the bottling process done in Tuscany, and will ensure all the relevant certification is receipted prior to the product going back on sale.”
Qatar Holding bought the Knightsbridge store in 2010 for a reported £1.5bn ($2.4bn) from Mohamed Al Fayed. Up until last year, Harrods’ new owners had spent £250m ($412m) upgrading the store.