Check Your Pantry – Your Olive Oil May Not Be Telling The Truth
Olive oil is a $1.5 billion dollar industry just in the United States. According to Tom Mueller’s expose book “Extra Virginity”, 70% of the extra virgin olive oil sold is adulterated and cut with cheaper oils and sold for high prices.
“Many olive oil scams involve straightforward mixing of low-grade vegetable oils, flavored and colored with plant extracts and sold in tins and bottles emblazoned with the Italian flags or paintings of Mount Vesuvius, together with the folksy names of imaginary producers.
More sophisticated scams, like Domenico Ribatti’s typically take place in high-tech laboratories, where cheaper oils of various kinds, made from olives, but also from seeds and nuts, are processed and blended in ways that are extremely difficult to detect with chemical tests.”
What exactly is ‘extra virgin’? For starters, The Olive Oil Times defines extra virgin as having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and a peroxide value of less than 20 milliequivalent O2. It must be produced entirely by mechanical means without the use of any solvents, and under temperatures that will not degrade the oil (less than 86°F, 30°C).
“The enormous popularity of the “Made in Italy” label worldwide makes it an appetizing target for food fraudsters, who earn an estimated €60 billion a year selling counterfeit or adulterated faux-Italian foods. In some of these crimes, mafia syndicates and other criminal networks sell substandard or unsafe products at huge profits.” – Tom Mueller (Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil)
UC-Davis took special interest on the subject, and decided to do their own investigation. Back in 2010, they published a detailed report entitled: Tests indicate that imported ‘extra virgin’ olive oil often fails international and USDA standards.
In it, researchers found that the fake extra-virgin olive oils had infiltrated markets in California. In two studies, the UC Davis researchers tested a total of 186 extra- virgin olive oil samples. They used standards established by the International Olive Council (IOC) in order to determine their authenticity. The study concluded that 69 percent of imported of California-based olive oil labeled ‘extra–virgin’ did not pass International Olive Council and US Department of Agriculture sensory standards. That is unbelievable.
However, UC Davis’ findings were based on specific brands. The ones that did meet the standards were of course released so that the public knows which stuff is authentic:
- Filippo Berio
- Newman’s Own
- Rachel Ray
- Whole Foods
Brands that met extra-virgin olive oil standards:
- Corto Olive
- California Olive Ranch
- Kirkland Organic
- Lucero (Ascolano)
- McEvoy Ranch Organic