Do you know about the ‘Olive Oil Fraud’? Many of us want to use ‘extra virgin olive oil’ for all the wonderful health benefits and taste, but is the olive oil real or fake?
When you go to the trouble of seeking it out the best olive oil and spending the extra money, there is a high chance that it is not virgin at all!
It is one of the many that are part of the ‘Olive Oil 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’ (EVOO) or even ‘Certified’ does not mean that it actually is. Olive oils are not created equal.Do you know about the olive oil fraud? Learn which oils are really olive oil.Click To Tweet
Updated: Jan 2019
This post is updated on a regular basis and reflects the current information available. – Diana
Italy’s extra virgin olive oil fraud scandal!
The anti-fraud police squad in Turin, Italy are examining seven well-known olive oil brands (Carapelli, 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
A study at the UC Davis Olive Center found that 69% of the imported EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) sold in California supermarkets did not qualify as extra virgin. Tests indicate that imported EVOO often fails international and USDA standards.
A bottle labeled EVOO may not be olive oil and instead be a seed oil which is made to smell and look like olive oil by adding a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene making it part of the olive oil fraud.
‘Olive Oil Fraud’ oils that failed to meet EVOO standards:
- Filippo Berio
- Newman’s Own
- Whole Foods
Which Olive Oils Passed the EVOO Standards?
These olive oils have met the extra-virgin standards; this list of brands is from the research above.
- 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.
- Corto Olive – can sometimes be purchased at Costco.
- Cobram Estate – Australia’s most awarded extra virgin olive oil
- California Olive Ranch – Award winning olive oil brand. It is in a tinted glass bottle protects oil and is 100% grown and made in California.
- Kirkland Organic – Amazon says: “Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil certified organic by the USDA. Made from the first cold pressing.” Comments on Amazon: of the 478 people who gave stars, 73% gave 5 stars.I have to say it is a very delicious olive oil, tasting like real olives; I’m just finishing up the bottle I bought.
- Lucero (Ascolano)– the olives are grown, harvested, and produced into the most authentic 100% Californian extra virgin olive oil.
- McEvoy Ranch Organic– one of the highest scoring olive oils which is from California.
- Ottavio – good olive oil but in a plastic bottle.
- Omaggio – Couldn’t find this anywhere.
- Whole Foods California 365 – 100% Californian, Unfiltered, Cold Processed, California Olive Oil Council – Certified Extra Virgin
- Olea Estates 100% extra virgin olive oil – This olive oil is grown on a single family farm in Greece and is a great tasting olive oil.
Here is another very good Olive Oil:
- Bertolli Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil – It is made from organic olives and produced using organic farming standards. This oil was on our list of not being approved but we have now learned that was incorrect. Here is a statement from the company: “Our olive oil exceeds the rigorous and exacting standards of the International Olive Council (IOC) and European Union (EU). As proof, in 2017 alone, we achieved global recognition for the quality of our products, winning 4 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze awards at multiple prestigious international olive oil competitions.”
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:
Ellora Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best olive oils. It is 100% Pure Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil of which the origin and authenticity is certified by the EU standards. While meeting the stringent requirements it maintains a focus on environmental consciousness and tradition. When you are ordering it online it comes in many sizes which can make shipping more economical. This is the one I am getting: 2 tins of Ellora Extra Virgin Olive Oil and 2 Ellora EVOO spray bottles saves on shipping to get lots at the same time.
Here is another olive oil I recently discovered that is certified:
Kasandrinos Organic Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil – 100% certified organic, non-GMO extra virgin olive oil from Kasandrinos century-old family orchard. Mechanical cold-pressing within 48 hours locks in the delicious flavor of the olives at peak of ripeness.
And one more that is a very good oil winning medals:
Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil is cold-pressed oil, unfiltered oil grown and packaged in Partanna, Sicily. The Asaro family has been producing it since 1916. This EVOO has been the winner of Gold Medals at the L.A. County Fair.
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.
6 Tips for Recognizing Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil
How do we know if our olive oil is the real thing and not fraudulent oil?
- Do not buy light olive oil or a blend; it isn’t virgin quality.
- When extra virgin olive oil costs less than $10 a litre it may not be real.
- Only buy oils in dark bottles, as this protects the oil from oxidation.
- Look for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC)
- Look for a harvesting date on the label.
- 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 olive oil fridge test as stated by Dr. Oz?
Dr. Oz said that when you put a real extra-virgin olive oil in the refrigerator, it will become thick and cloudy as it cools completely.
The ‘Fridge Test’ should not be considered accurate. Some oils made from high-wax olive varieties will even solidify according to a Fridge Test.
Learn more about how to use olive oil.
Olive oil is my favourite for making salad dressings.