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Food Prep

Investigation reveals 'toxic' pizza in Italy


An Italian journalist conducted a pizzeria investigation that has stirred up controversy in Naples. (iStock)

Naples, Italy is the birthplace of the beloved pizza pie. But an Italian TV investigation shows it may also be the birthplace of the "toxic" pizza pie.

Bernardo Iovene, an Italian journalist who works on the current affairs show "Report," conducted a investigation that has kicked up some controversy in Naples. 

Iovene interviewed restaurant staff and took samples from various pizzerias for scientific analysis. His results uncovered some stomach-churning findings, including pies with nasty ingredients, carcinogens and toxic fumes, the Telegraph reports.

Guido Perin, an eco-toxicologist of Venice University, told Iovene that “the product of combustion of wood...contains carcinogens.” According to Perin, pizza dough can absorb these toxic carcinogens through classic wood burning ovens and burnt flour that remains on an oven floor.

“It’s the same as [the air] you breathe behind a lorry on the motorway,” Perin explained to Iovene.

Iovene also identified a number of other health issues, such as the use of extra-fine flour, which has the nutrients ground out of it, increasing blood sugar levels and putting eaters at risk of pancreatitis, diabetes, morbid obesity, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

He also identified the use of substandard ingredients such as palm, soya and sunflower oil, Chinese tomatoes instead of traditional San Marzano, and inadequate “proving” times for the pizza dough. 

But there is hope for Italian pizza lovers.

Iovene says he spoke to many pizza makers who are committed to using the highest quality ingredients –even though he was unable to find many in Naples.