Following the announcement that traces of carcinogentetic dioxins had been found in the buffalo milk used to produce Campania's famed mozzarella, health officials from South Korea and Japan announced that they were temporarily banning imports of the Neapolitan delicacy.
Initially, Italian health officials suggested that the contamination was connected to Campania's garbage disaster. However, after an emergency summit held at the Italian health ministry with representatives from the Campania region and the agriculture, environment and foreign trade ministries, officials announced no direct link between the region's trash crisis and the dioxins in the mozzarella. ‘The dioxins found did not come from urban waste but from the burning of agricultural industrial waste or from tainted feed', said Donato Greco, head of the health ministry's prevention department.
Health undersecretary Gian Paolo Patta further explained that incineration of industrial waste produced fine dioxin particles that then settled on the ground where the animals graze and live. According to Patta, the dioxin contamination of the Neapolitan cheese ‘is limited and has been contained. The vast majority of herds producing [buffalo] milk in the area and the mozzarella produced are free from any contamination'.
The consortium of quality buffalo mozzarella makers has reported a 40 to 60 percent drop in mozzarella sales in December 2007 and January 2008. Approximately 16 percent of the buffalo mozzarella produced annually in the Campania region is exported worldwide, for a value of about 48 million euro.