Barilla, Bertolli & Co.: This is why you should avoid these pestos in the future


ÖKO-TEST is known to take a close interest in food testing. In issue 6/2020, the experts tested a total of 20 green pestos, including four from controlled organic farming. The products have not only been checked for smell and taste, but also examined for harmful substances in a laboratory. And the result is anything but pleasing. All pesticide levels measured are, taken individually, harmless to health according to EU safety assessments. Nevertheless, ÖKO-TEST criticizes even small amounts of pesticides in food and downgrades the products accordingly.

The result: none of the pestos in the test obtained a “very good” or “good” rating. Two products can at least obtain the “satisfactory” rating, including an organic pesto: Das Organic Ppura Genovese Pesto as well as that Buitoni pesto basil.

Although mineral oil components are also greatly increased in these products, both are free of plasticizers and pesticides. Another six pestos are enough. Three pestos fail with the “poor” rating, nine fail the test as “insufficient”.

Among the big losers who get 6 are also well-known and popular brands:

  • Alnatura Organic Green Pesto
  • Barilla pesto with sponge cake
  • Bertolli Green Pesto (Unilever)
  • From Cecco I Sughi Pesto alla Genovese

The popular Barilla Pesto contains 10 different pesticides, softeners, added flavorings and significantly increased mineral oil components.

> To the detailed test report at ÖKO-TEST

Warentest & VKI Foundation

VKI’s result doesn’t look much different. Experts tested a total of 13 pestos in issue 9/2021. Here too, no product can fully convince. After all, three of the pestos work “well”: Spar Natur pur pesto alla genovese, Gustoni Pesto Basilico and the Yes! Pesto Genovese, of course. The three products rated “good” are organic products and at the same time they are among the most expensive pestos in the test.

Our Austrian neighbors also tested the popular Barilla pesto. Here the pesto cuts “medium”, but in the test of the Austrians, unlike Germany, there are only five points instead of six. In terms of ingredients, Barilla pesto was also negative in this lab test. In addition to pollutants, the experts have also discovered a trick: To save money, cheap substitutes are used in pesto, for example. For example, olive oil is replaced by cheaper sunflower oil, an undefined type of cheese is mixed in place of real parmesan and pecorino, or the pine nuts typical of the recipe are replaced by cheaper cashews. For example, Barilla’s product contains no pine nuts.

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