This week, Italian police recalled and confiscated 70,000 balls of mozzarella cheese after consumers reported that the cheese quickly developed a blue tint when the packaging was opened.
Ministry laboratories were ordered by Agriculture Minister Giancarlo Galan to investigate the incident. Galan called the development “disturbing,” and no illnesses have been reported thus far.
Samples were sent to laboratories that usually deal with sport anti-doping testing to see if they could find any foreign matter in the cheese. Results are expected within the next few days.
The incident was reported after a woman in Turin notified police when she noticed that her mozzarella, which was made in Germany for an Italian company, turned blue after the package was opened and the cheese came into contact with air. Several merchants in Turin have received similar complaints.
This is not the first issue with Italy’s staple cheese made from buffalo milk. The cheese in question is of the buffalo mozzarella variety, an important part of many classic Italian dishes including pizza, panini and caprese salad.
Earlier this year, Italian agriculture authorities found that some buffalo mozzarella from an area south of Rome had fallen below standards after traces of cow’s milk were found in it.
After blue mozzarella surfaced, the Italian agriculture lobby Coldiretti lamented that many consumers don’t know that half the mozzarella sold in Italy is made from foreign-produced milk. It is pushing for legislation that would oblige producers to declare the origin of all ingredients on the label.