Prized Cheese in Italy at Risk

Toxins found in mozzarella after years of illegal trash dumping
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2008 7:03 PM CDT
Prized Cheese in Italy at Risk
Buffalo mozzarella cheese is prepared at a dairy in Caserta, near Naples, southern Italy, in this 2006 photo. Traces of a carcinogen in samples of the cheese has caused a health scare.   (AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta)

More consumers are turning up their noses at Italy’s prized buffalo mozzarella, and not over its smell, the New York Times reports. Toxins have been found in samples of the delicacy, likely caused by illegal dumping of garbage around Naples. Sales are down 40%, and farmers and restaurateurs fear a panic despite that fact that best cheese region appears unaffected.

Counterfeit mozzarella-makers are to blame for the tainted samples, some vendors claim. But South Korea has banned imports and some restaurants have done the same. Italy produces 30,000 tons of the high-quality cheese each year, mostly for domestic consumption. Organized crime groups in Naples have been dumping garbage illegally for years, with little resistance from authorities, the Times notes. (More Italy stories.)

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