Italy’s Famous Buffalo Mozzarella Suffers Another Environmental Blow

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If you’ve seen the incredible film Gomorrah or read Roberto Saviano’s book of the same name, you’ll probably know a little bit about the environmental situation in the province of Campania, where Naples is located.

Things are rough there, and while some (superficial) strides were made on the garbage crisis that threatened to consume Naples for a while back in 2008, the continuous spoiling of one of the world’s most beautiful places by organized crime (the Camorra, or Naples-based mafia) continues practically unabated.


Why Buffalo Mozzarella is Special

Protected by Italy’s world-famous “D.O.P.” designation (dominizaione di origine prottetta or protected domain of origin), mozzarella made from buffalo’s milk, coming from buffalo raised exclusively in the Campania region, is one of the most cherished of Italy’s food products — both in the country itself and that which gets exported fresh around the world.

Fresh buffalo mozzarella really does taste different — there’s an outer “skin” to the ball of mozzarella, it comes floating in buffalo milk, and it has a distinct, rich flavour not to be found in normal, cow’s-milk mozzarella (also known as Fior di Latte).


There’s Been Trouble Before

buffalo mozzarella basil

A couple of years ago, there was a news flareup as word came that toxin levels in the ground the buffalo were being raised on — and thus in their milk — were higher than expected. Some countries temporarily stopped importing buffalo mozzarella, but the mini-crisis eventually passed.

A lot of this gets blamed on the Camorra, who pollute the region without regard for anything — they’re a nihilistic and dirty organized crime syndicate for whom short-term gain is absolutely everything.


But Now Buffalo Mozzarella Producers are In Trouble

Recently, though, it came to light that the waters of the “Lagni”, a network of canals between the provinces of Naples and Caserta (both in the Campania region), which flow next to dozens of farms producing buffalo mozzarella, have been contaminated by those very farms themselves.

According to a recent news report, 22 buffalo farmers have been placed under house arrest for allowing buffalo manure, and at times even animal carcasses themselves, to contaminate the water supply.

This is a most unwelcome development — the region already suffers from serious environmental degradation for factors often beyond its control, and now to find out that certain farmers have been damaging the land and water supply is a tough pill for the Italian food-producing industry to swallow.


“Effects Will Linger for 3 Generations”

According to one of the local prosecutors responsible for filing charges of improper waste disposal and water poisoning, the “next three generations will be paying for the consequences of this environmental disaster.

It should be noted, of course — producers maintain that strong systems of control are still enforced when speaking of any product with the “D.O.P.” designation — and some of those checks are possibly what led to these arrests.

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