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KEmerson 01-18-2010 06:15 PM

Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
I've been reading Roberto Saviano's "Gomorrah" about the Camorra of Naples and surrounding areas. The final chapter deals with the toxic waste dumping in Naples and Caserta and other Southern Italian towns and cities; how it affects everything from the landscape to the water to the food produced. And the animals which eat the grasses and then produce their byproduct. So I am wondering if anyone knows for certain how the buffalo mozzarella is affected. Is it something we will have to give up? Will other buffalo mozzarella, regardless of its source and quality, (meaning non Neapolitan and therefore not as wonderful) have to become our alternative? Are promises made by Italian producers good enough to believe? I have never heard much good about any other buffalo mozzarella such as that made in Vermont and California, as compared with the Neapolitan. But is it at least still preferable to fiore di latte, cows milk mozzarella if the buffalo is what one wants, prefers? Is this going to be a sad end to a sublime food? The Camorra aren't letting up. No one can stop them. And they don't care about much of anything beyond their own codes and profits. What's to become of any food coming from the area? What of the San Marzano tomatoes?

On a personal note, as one who lived in Naples from 1960 to '63, this is all very sad to read. Difficult to fathom or let in. Italians, Neapolitans especially, are such wonderful people, so full of character and color. It sickens me to read this book. I'd rather they all had a cancer and died that way than they way they already are.

Here's just one article. There are many.

heliman 01-18-2010 09:06 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
An Italian friend mentioned this problem to me - this is a serious concern for sure.

Thanks for posting the reference. It does not bode well for Italy's mozarella producers.

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the investigation, particularly whether it can be conducted without interference.


Jaronimo 01-19-2010 01:39 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
I was just in Naples less than 6 months ago, and it wasn't pretty. I spent a lot of time in Italy and half of that was in the Naples area in the late 80s. It was dirty and nasty back then, but so was NYC when I returned home. I was shocked 6 months ago because Naples is as dirty as it ever was. NYC cleaned up nicely though. About a year ago I was in Venice and watched on the news about the garbage strikes in Naples. They solved the strike, but looks like they are not putting a high priority on cleaning up the city. Too bad because it could be a beautiful city.

ps: on a side note, back in the 80s when I was there I had to do a number of dives in Naples harbor. The pollution and bacteria levels were so high we had to pack vaseline in our ears to keep the bacteria out. Then when we got out of the water we got sprayed down with a bleach solution. Its not a fond memory.

heliman 01-19-2010 04:28 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
This is a worry. I am going to be in Naples in May and whilst I was prepared for some dirt & crime, this is beginning to sound very bad. The potential mozarella contamination issue also kind of makes me question the safety of the products now. I wonder if the contamination extends to their flour as well...


BurntFingers 01-19-2010 04:36 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
Yuck ! And I thought the food stuff from EU countries were of the highest quality. Higher than USDA standards. I can understand the situation as a long time resident of NJ.

BurntFingers 01-19-2010 04:39 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
Try googling: food contamination Naples Italy -- You should get a page of articles. Wow!

KEmerson 01-19-2010 04:42 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
I had wondered about the flour for a second, but I remember that Caputo flour isn't from wheats grown locally. In fact, I don't know if we really know where the wheat comes from but it could well be American or Canadian. What I am worried about is the San Marzano tomatoes as well as the mozzarella. I read that the buffalo mozzarella is customarily not pasteurized, and that pasteurization of the buffalo milk will make it safe. I can't say for certain, but I am under the impression that non-pasteurized milk products aren't allowed in the U.S. so I don't know what I've been buying. Do they even make any pasteurized mozzarella? And of course, pasteurization doesn't even enter into the equation for the tomatoes, andthe toxic waste affects all agriculture in Campania. I highly recommend reading Saviano's book to anyone considering a trip to Naples. It might not keep you from going but it could cause you to modify your plans once there.

The garbage being dumped is not coming from Naples alone. It is also shipped - illegally, courtesy of the Cammora - from the rest of Italy and Europe and even China. And it is highly toxic, not just household garbage. It's chemicals. Just read the last chapter and you won't look at a city garbage truck the same way again.

KEmerson 01-19-2010 04:50 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
Burnt Fingers: I Googled toxic waste and mozzarella in Naples and found a slew of articles. I wouldn't read any of them before bed-time though. As for EU membership, it was the Cammora whose practices actually helped Italy qualify for membership. It was a bit convoluted - naturally - so I can't really retell how it worked, but it did. Anyone with even a slight interest in Italy needs to read Roberto Saviano's "Gommorah". And the movie won't be enough.This isn't the semi-romantic Mafia of Don Corleone or even Gotti. As one who lived in Naples as a kid, I feel my Italy and my Naples have been raped and burnt to death. These people cannot possibly have any love for their own people, their country, their heritage, their pride, their anything.

heliman 01-19-2010 05:01 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
Did a search - much of this info dates back to 2008. I certainly haven't heard about it recently so perhaps the problem has "gone away". The potential for Italian producers on many levels could be catastrophic.


KEmerson 01-19-2010 05:24 PM

Re: Buffalo mozzarella and toxic waste dumping in Naples
There seems to be a difference between the strike, which put tons of Neapolitan garbage in the streets, and the illegal toxic waste dumping by the Camorra. Perhaps the strike was settled and the streets cleaned up - that would be nice all by itself. But I don't yet know that the Cammora have given it up. One of the government operations looking into it was called Operation King Midas because of a taped telephone conversation between members of one of the clans in which it was said that whenever they touch garbage it turns to gold. The toxic waste dumping is a huge income source for them. They have people who are not actually affiliates of any clan, who are paid to search for sites to dump in. Anyplace. Garbage in the streets is just the normal garbage. Which can get pretty ripe and toxic too. But it isn't Dioxin. It isn't tons of printer toner, and a host of other toxins, from Tuscany, Reggio-Emilia, Germany, Spain. And it isn't just tossed in and under and near the fields where the buffalo roam. What the Cammora has done - is doing - isn't part of the strike

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