Is buffalo mozzarella legit or not?
Many restaurant menus feature "buffalo mozzarella" - soft, white, delicately flavoured cheese originating from southern Italy. And yes, it's made from the milk of domesticated water buffalo.
One Cape company is producing it but most is imported, and all of it carries a premium price. So how do we know if that "buffalo mozzarella" wasn't really made with the milk of cows?
The only way to know for sure is test its DNA, and a laboratory in Cape Town - Food and Allergy Consulting and Testing Services - does just that.
Remember the donkey meat scandal? Same lab.
The laboratory's Jana du Plessis said that she'd DNA-tested 16 samples of so-called buffalo mozzarella bought from both supermarkets and restaurants. Of those, 11 were indeed made from buffalo milk, but five were not.
And of those five, three were from Cape Town restaurants, and pretty pricey ones at that.
That's food fraud, and a rip-off.
It's remains an academic exercise, as Du Plessis has not yet approached those restaurants with her findings, much less publicly called them out on it.
So we don't know if the restaurants knowingly passed off cow's milk mozzarella as buffalo, or whether it's their suppliers who are pulling a fast one.
I intend to send them some fresh samples from other restaurants and, if the results show cow instead of buffalo, naming and shaming will follow.
Because it's not just about posh cheese - the issue is one of trust and ethical behaviour.