INTRODUCTION: Over 100 people have been killed by poisoned cooking oil in Spain over the past four months.
GV Crowds outside government exchange centre.
SV Women with bottles of suspect oil on trolley. (2 SHOTS)
SV Containers of suspect oil. (2 SHOTS)
SV INTERIOR People handing in suspect oil to officials.
SV Officials recording names and quantity of oil.
SV Officials checking oil.
CU Government official burning wax and sealing bottle of oil.
SV Women receiving new oil.
SV Oil being put into container. (2 SHOTS)
SV INTERIOR, Supermarket. Woman picks up tin and replaces it on shelf.
CU Tins of sardines on shelf.
GV People at cash desk.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Over 100 people have been killed by poisoned cooking oil in Spain over the past four months. Almost 12,000 other have been made ill by the oil in a scandal that has made consumer protection a burning political issue for the first time in Spain. Prime Minister, Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo's government has been forced to act. A first step has been to create a new Secretary of State for Consumer Affairs to combat food fraud.
SYNOPSIS: The olive oil scandal first broke in May when hundreds of victims experienced symptoms first diagnosed as pneumonia. By June, however, it was apparent that the outbreak was caused by poisoned cooking oil. Rape-seed oil, treated for industrial use, had been fraudulently sold as olive oil. Suspect samples are now being collected for government inspection.
So far tonnes of adulterated oil have ben confiscated by the government. Angry consumers have also brought suspect purchases to government exchange centres. More than twelve toxic brands have already been identified. However, victims of the poisoning have been far from satisfied with the government's response to the tragedy. More than 1,300 of them have formed a pressure group to demand compensation. They argue that outdated and inefficient food protection laws are to blame.
The authorities have responded by exchanging bottles of free, guaranteed safe, olive oil of suspect samples. However, no sure antidote has yet been found for the poisonous substances. Many victims are still in hospital and the government has recently been forced to announce large scale medical and economic aid for those affected.
Since the poisoning began consumer resistance to products containing olive oil has increased. Sales of tinned goods like sardines and tuna fish have dropped markedly. Commerce Ministry officials admit that some of the adulterated oil may have found its way into exported foodstuffs. So far, only Portugal has put limits on exports from Spain, which is the world's largest producer of olive oil.