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Beware of Toxic Italian Food from the Triangle of Death

How toxic is that pizza?

Alarmingly, an area of Italy close to Naples has been christened the Triangle of Death by locals. It is an area where the camorra mafia has been running a very lucrative, highly illegal and dangerous, toxic waste dumping business.

Basically, the camorra mafia has been dumping – and probably still is – all sorts of dangerous toxic waste in the countryside of the Campania region of Italy.

The toxins have entered the food chain as contaminated fruit and vegetables have been found in the areas in which the illegal waste dumping has taken place. Tonnes of toxic food have been seized in Italy. In May, 2013, a doctor in the Triangle of Death area, Nunzio Pacilio advised pregnant women against eating dairy products and vegetables in view of the high number of spontaneous abortions. One in seven pregnancies had ended in spontaneous abortions, the medic claimed. A local priest stated he was tired of presiding over the funerals of children killed by tumours.

UPDATE: Thanks to one of my Twitter followers, John Avelis, it has been drawn to my attention that the US Navy has been carrying out a detailed study of the Campania region – the results of the last one – Phase II Volume III – 290 pages, came out in May 2011 and did not find cause for concern at that time but certain foodstuffs, such as dairy products, were not analysed. Chicken and a range of vegetables available to US personnel within US bases were safe though.

This is a section taken from one of the Phase II fact sheets:

What were the results of the food study?

Results of the study demonstrated that the vegetables sampled in the study met the food safety criteria for safe consumption. In addition, chicken products produced by Arena Group also met food safety criteria for safe consumption. Further, tap water from the washing sink of the Commissary’s produce department met the safety criteria for drinking and washing fruits and vegetables. However, tap water from Arena Group had concentrations of coliform that exceeded the “zero tolerance” level criteria for total coliform. Following this finding, Arena Group was suspended from VETCOM’s list of approved suppliers. The poultry plant corrected the bacteria discrepancy and was later reinstated on VETCOM’s approved source list after VETCOM re-inspected the plant. Unrelated to the study, Arena Group requested to be removed from VETCOM’s list of approved suppliers in December 2009. Currently, there are no local acquisitions for fresh poultry.

The comprehensive US Navy Public Health reports with maps and plus fact sheets, compiled by CNIC Naval Support Activity Naples, can all be found here – .pdf files :

  • Phase II Fact Sheets Available HERE

Note that the US only inspects food available within its bases and not food available off base, in local restaurants, for example.

—end of update—

Fires used to incinerate waste have been helping spread poisons over a wider area, so the Triangle of Death area may actually be several times larger than some indications suggest. This means fruit and vegetables over a much wider section of the Campania region may be unsafe for human consumption, though this has not been demonstrated, yet. Hopefully it never will be.

Fires have led the the area earning itself the nickname the Land of Fire. The fires, used to illegally incinerate waste, have been helping spread poisons over a wider area, so the Triangle of Death area may actually be several times larger than some indications suggest. This means fruit and vegetables over a much wider section of the Campania region may be unsafe for human consumption, though this has not been demonstrated, yet. Hopefully it never will be. The 2011 US Navy report, Phase 11 Volume 111 suggests most food is safe.

Fires used to incinerate waste have been helping spread poisons over a wider area, so the Triangle of Death area may actually be several times larger than some indications suggest. This means fruit and vegetables over a much wider section of the Campania region may be unsafe for human consumption, though this has not been demonstrated, yet. Hopefully it never will be.

Italy's Triangle of Death
Italy’s Triangle of Death

Cancer and Congenital Deformities

Cancer levels in the province of Naples are way above Italy’s national average and congenital deformities are more common too.

Understandably, Italians in other areas of Italy want to know if they are eating contaminated food. The problem it that it is just about impossible to know.

Contaminated tomatoes may end up in sauces produced in Italy’s north. Street traders, I saw one today, hawk crates of cheap Clementine oranges on the streets of Milan. Who knows where these oranges were grown and whether or not they are safe to eat?

In September 2004, this appeared in Lancet Oncology:

The 5000 illegal or uncontrolled landfill sites in Italy drew particular criticism; Italy has already been warned twice for flouting the Hazardous Waste Directive and the Landfill Directive, and the EU has now referred Italy to the European Court of Justice for further action.

The dumping of toxic waste in the area did not cease.

An Italian policeman investigating illegal dumping in the area also kn0wn as the Land of Fire has been diagnosed with a tumour.

Quarantine Time?

There are campaigns in Italy for the origins of fruit and vegetables to be clearly marked on packets, bottles and cans, but so far this has not happened. Perhaps those outside should start lobbying the European Union and asking questions about the safety of Italian produce.

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Maybe the USA’s FDA should start knocking on the Italian government’s door to demand food safety assurances.

Or should the whole area simply be quarantined?

Dairy Products May be Contaminated

Do you know where that delicious buffalo mozzarella came from in Italy? Has it been tested? If not, you may want to think twice about eating it until such time as the Italian government provides comprehensive assurances as to the safety of Italian foodstuffs. Assurances backed by independent testing.

Italy’s Mafia Controlled Fruit and Vegetable Markets

Making matters even more worrying is the concern that Italy’s mafias often control fruit and vegetable markets in Italy.

It is believed that Naples’ camorra mafia have formed a fruit and vegetable market control alliance with the Sicilian mafia otherwise known as Cosa Nostra. This means that contaminated fruit and vegetables from the Triangle of Death, Land of Fire areas is likely to be distributed throughout Italy, and possibly beyond Italy’s boundaries.

Another of Italy’s organised crime gangs, the all powerful ‘ndrangheta mafia reputedly runs the wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Milan.

Neither dumping toxic waste near or on farmland, nor adherence to food safety regulations bother organised crime in Italy.

How Safe is Food in Italy?

This is extremely difficult to know. That tasty looking pizza with its mozzarella cheese and tomato paste may look great, but where did the cheese and tomatoes come from? You could try asking, but how good is your Italian? Will the pizza restaurant even know or will it give you an honest answer? Who knows?

UPDATE: According to the Burnt By the Tuscan Sun blog, tests commissioned by four Italian consumer associations have revealed that mozzarella from the Triangle of Death/Land of Fire area is more than safe enough to enjoy. More information here: Mozzarella from Naples: Italian Cuisine Good Enough to Eat?

How toxic is that pizza?
How toxic is that pizza?

Fruit, vegetables and dairy products from the Naples area are distributed throughout Italy but you are unlikely to find indications of where that food was grown. Some labelling in Italy’s supermarkets does say where the products were grown, though. Origins are not always specified with great precision. For example, the tin of tomato pulp in our food cupboard says the tomatoes are from Italy but omits to mention exactly whereabouts in Italy. The company which produced the tomato pulp is based in Parma in northern Italy but I have no idea where in Italy the company obtains its tomatoes.

Even if the origin of the food is stated, do you know where the place mentioned in Italy is? Probably not. You could search for it on your smart phone or tablet though, but this is not always easy to do.

At the end of the day, a rather large question mark hangs over the safety of food in Italy – testing is unlikely to be independent. The food could be fine, then again, it could be loaded with an unsafe quantity of dioxins and other toxic nasties. You simply cannot know by looking at or tasting the food, nor can your children.

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Family?

Look for the precise origin of the food – the town or area of Italy. If a town in the Italian region of Campania is named on the label, it may be wise to look for something from somewhere else in Italy.

Don’t rely on official looking labelling, it might be fake or the product of a backhander arrangement. Then again, it might not. It’s virtually impossible to know in Italy.

If you buy Italian tomatoes or tomato based products, find out where the tomatoes came from in Italy. If the price seems exceptionally cheap, beware, though this may not indicate whether the tomatoes contain toxin or not. However, unscrupulous producers may be trying to offload tonnes of contaminated produce to food makers at knock-down prices.

Italy’s Triangle of Death is killing and deforming Italians – don’t let it do the same to you.

Pizza photo by Lppa

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