Italian buffalo mozzarella makers defend their cheese
Italian cheesemakers are trying to regain the confidence of local consumers after authorities found high levels of dioxin in samples of buffalo milk.
Prosecutors in Naples are investigating 109 people on suspicion of fraud and food poisoning in connection with the tainted milk, the ANSA news agency said.
A group of buffalo mozzarella makers took out newspaper ads in Italy on Friday, asserting that their products were safe and produced under careful controls.
The producers under investigation are not members of the group, the ad by the Campania group said.
The ad said regulators guarantee the safe production of buffalo mozzarella.
An Italian agricultural group, Coldiretti, has asked police to move quickly on the investigation because buffalo mozzarella is such a big business.
The production of buffalo mozzarella is worth more than $460 million a year, and much of it is exported to Europe, Japan and Russia.
Mozzarella has become increasingly popular, both as a staple in pizza and as a standalone starter with meats or tomatoes and basil.
It's made from buffalo milk in seven provinces in central-south Italy, the producer's group website said.
"Cow's-milk mozzarella is a ball of fresh cheese swimming in brine, pleasant as ice cream but absolutely tasteless. Made out of buffalo milk, instead, it becomes an altogether different matter," the site said.