Many of us want to use ‘extra virgin olive oil’ for all the wonderful health benefits and taste, but  when you go to the trouble of seeking it out, and spending the extra money, there is a high chance that it is not virgin at all!

That olive oil  is likely to be a fraud. A high percentage of the olive oils are not at all what they say on the label. Just because they say it is ‘Extra-virgin olive oil’ or even ‘Certified’ does not mean that it actually is. All olive oils are not created equal.

Italy’s extra virgin olive oil scandal!

The anti-fraud police squad in Turin, Italy are examining seven well-known olive oil brands (Carapelli, Bertolli, Santa Sabina, Coricelli, Sasso, Primadonna and Antica Badia) to find out if they are selling an inferior virgin olive oil as “extra virgin” olive oil. To learn more, watch this video:

60 Minutes’ Looks at Olive Oil Adulteration in Italy 

Extra Virgin Suicide slide show by Nicholas Blechman explains well what happens on the NY Times

In America, more than $700 million a year is spent on olive oil, but unfortunately, it is not really olive oil because of olive oil fraud. Most of the olive oils on the market are cut with cheap vegetable oils.

The results from the Consumer Report’s found that only 9 of the 23 olive oils from Italy, Spain and California tested, and passed as being extra virgin olive oil even though all of them  claimed so on the label. AND: “More than half tasted fermented or stale.”

International standards for extra virgin olive oil are mostly unenforced. Although the term ‘extra virgin’ is generally understood to denote the highest quality of olive oil, industry representatives report that the current standards are easily met by producers and allow olive oil marketed as ‘extra virgin’ to represent a wide range of qualities. This lack of enforcement has resulted in a long history of fraudulent practices (adulteration and mislabelling) in the olive oil sector.”  – United States International Trade Commission

In a study at the UC Davis Olive Center, it was found that 69% of the imported ‘extra virgin’ olive oil sold in California supermarkets did not qualify as extra virgin. Tests indicate that imported “extra virgin”olive oil often fails international and USDA standards.

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Olive oils that failed to meet the ‘extra virgin’ olive oil standards:

  • Bertolli
  • Carapelli
  • Colavita
  • Star
  • Filippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods

Which Olive Oils Are Good?

These olive oils have met the extra-virgin standards; this list of brands is from the research above.

  • Olea Estates 100% extra virgin olive oil is from an extremely reliable source and is our top recommendation. This olive oil is grown on a single family farm in Greece and is a great tasting olive oil.  We think so highly about this that we contacted them and they did give us a code for a discount which now is invalid. I spoke with them they will be giving us another discount code very soon.
  • Bariani Olive Oil is Stone Crushed, Cold Pressed, Decanted and Unfiltered California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and they are committed to producing an authentic extra virgin olive oil which is raw. Weston Price recommends this oil.

Olives in a small saucer of olive oil

Consumer Reports (September 2012 issue), published results of a taste test of 138 bottles of extra virgin olive oil from 23 manufacturers. The olive oil was sourced from the US, Argentina, Greece, Chile, and Italy. They found that olive oil produced in California exceeded those from Italy.
Two highest scoring olive oils (both from California) from their testing were:

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

  • First, the oil must come from fresh olives that were milled within 24 hours of their harvest.
  • Next, it must be extracted by mechanical means, not from heat or chemicals.
  • They must not be treated chemically in any way.
  • Extra virgin oil is, in fact, fresh olive juice.
  • Being a fruit, olives contain natural antioxidants that protect the plant during its lifetime. When the olive tree is very old it contains more of these antioxidants. This is one of the reasons that olive trees are often hundreds of years old and create antioxidant rich products.

As you read above, not all olive oil is the same, so it is important to purchase the right type of olive oil.

Extra-virgin olive oil (cold pressed) is the best.  The problem is: How do we know if it is the real thing and not fraud oil?

6 Tips for Recognising Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  1. Do not buy light olive oil or a blend; it isn’t virgin quality.
  2. When extra virgin olive oil costs less than $10 a litre it may not be real.
  3. Only buy oils in dark bottles, as this protects the oil from oxidation.
  4. Look for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC)
  5. Look for a harvesting date on the label.
  6. Olive oil can get old and rancid. A simple test for a “good” olive oil is to taste a little on a spoon. Not rancid, real olive oil will have a fruity taste in the front of your mouth and a peppery taste in the back of your mouth.

How about the fridge test as stated by Dr Oz? He said that when you put a real extra-virgin olive oil in the refrigerator, it will become thick and cloudy as it cools completely. That is not a for sure test (some oils made from high-wax olive varieties will even solidify) according to a Fridge Test.

Olive oil is my favourite for making salad dressings.
Here are 5 delicious salad dressing recipes:

Olive Oil Lemon Juice Salad Dressing

Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Salad Dressing

Raspberry Lemon Salad Dressing

Balsamic Salad Dressing 

Lemon-Mint Salad Dressing

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Join one of the many vegan courses at Real Food for Life. Experience eating lots of vegetables and fruits for two days a week for a month. It will help you integrate plant foods into your diet.