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Adulterated Olive Oil Fraud


Morten
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Hope it havnt been posted before (and is in the right place and did a search first). But apperently fake olive oil is a major problem. I had no idea :hmmm:

And as the article says somewhere - even the old romans had issues with it and meassures against this fraud.

and confiscated a hundred thousand litres of fake olive oil, with a street value of six million euros (about eight million dollars).

But that line alone made my day... :cool::cool:

http://www.grydeskeen.dk - a danish foodblog :)
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olive oil is one of those things you buy strictly on taste. except for about 5% of producers, I wouldn't believe I thing they say on their labels. On the other hand, if it's a good product, what does it really matter where it's from or what it's grade is? I'm still smarting from a big piece I did back in 1985 about the huge freeze in Tuscany that wiped out a big chunk of their olive orchards (trees froze down to the ground!). based on interviews with knowledgeable experts, I predicted that it would be many years before we saw reasonably priced Tuscan oil again. The next year, exports actually rose (part of this is due to the interesting quirk in olive oil bottling laws that assign the place of origin as the place the oil was bottled, not where it was grown or pressed; the rest was sheer fraud).

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Disheartening, but not in the least surprising.

The article mentions hazelnut oil, among other types, being passed of as olive oil. I wonder how many people with nut allergies have gone into anaphylactic shock as a result of eating "olive oil" made from hazelnuts...

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  • 5 years later...

I was back in the mid west last week and while in an agricultural extention office I picked up a copy fo USDA's Agricultural Reasearch, a magazine they publish ten time a year.

This was the May/Jun 2013 ed. It ahs a great article on the Authenticy of Olive Oil.

http://ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/may13/olives0513.htm

I got hooked on the fact that foods aren't always what we think we are getting,eg pink slime, honey diluted with cor syurp....

Hope that those who are interested in such enjoy the read.

Robert

Robert

Seattle

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Not to take anything away from your info, especially since it should be brought up every now and then, however, it's really old news. Both the New Yorker and the NYT did stories about counterfeit and adulterated olive oils some years ago. But, as I said, the more times this is mentioned the smarter consumers will be.

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mueller

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/02/the-exchange-tom-mueller.html

For the most part, I buy only locally (California) produced olive oils from known and trusted producers. Often it's fresher than the imports and I know what I'm getting. Plus, I can taste many of the products before making a purchase ... and that's very nice.

BTW, the lab that did the tests in the article is located in my neighborhood, and I know of their work. They are a very reputable lab.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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for sure.

learned a lot here:

http://www.amazon.com/Extra-Virginity-Sublime-Scandalous-World/dp/0393343618/ref=sr_1_1/178-2285265-1202021?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373915787&sr=1-1&keywords=olive+oil

book ref'd in New Yorker

I get CA olive oil from TJ's now. Most Italian olive oil is imported to Italy then reshipped.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

Most Italian olive oil is imported to Italy then reshipped.

You've gotta read the labels. There is oil that is "packed" in Italy, often in containers using symbols and language that suggests the oil is Italian in origin, but the oil is not Italian.

That said, I buy almost all of our olive oil from local California producers, some of which I know personally, so I know exactly what's in the bottle. Every now and then I pick up a California oil from TJ's.

 ... Shel


 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm new to the forum, but have been interested in this topic for a long time (and even more as it relates to wine). Shel and others, besides purchasing from reputable local producers, do you have strategies for increasing odds that you're buying "real" olive oil? I've kept my fingers crossed when I buy "cooking grade" olive oil from Costco and been even more careful when buying more costly bottles. Any advice?

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I really don't have a strategy other than buying local, well known and well regarded olive oil. California oils, such as Bariani, McEvoy Ranch, Lucero, Olivina, Owens Creek, Pasolivo, and others. Most often we buy Bariani. They have a late harvest and an early harvest oil, press and bottle it themselves, and we buy it directly from Santa or, sometimes, one of the boys at the Berkeley Farmers Market. We also use their balsamic - it's a fine, everyday vinegar and Toots likes it in her salad dressings.

I suppose no other strategy is needed - other than finding an oil that you like - if you're buying from a known source.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Try to buy locally. Taste before you buy if possible, if not buy a small bottle to insure you'll like it. If not you've not wasted a lot of change. Remember the enemies of olive oil are light, heat and oxygen. Look for dark bottles, go with screw caps and, store in a cool spot like a lower cabinet. Beyond the producers Shel B has suggested there are a large number producing in all of California, some in Arizona and Texas. Look for the local olive organizations to see who's a member and producer. Ours is the Central Coast Olive Growers www.centralcoastolivegrowers.org Another good source is the listing of results of the Los Angeles Olive Oil competition as part of the LA County fair. Probably the largest number of worldwide entries that will steer you in the right direction.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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Look for the local olive organizations to see who's a member and producer. Ours is the Central Coast Olive Growers www.centralcoastolivegrowers.org Another good source is the listing of results of the Los Angeles Olive Oil competition as part of the LA County fair. Probably the largest number of worldwide entries that will steer you in the right direction.

A good suggestion, but there are quite a few producers that are not members of these organization, and to discount a producer because of their lack of affiliation could be doing a buyer a disservice. OTOH, checking these associations is certainly a good place to start, just don't arbitrarily stop there. There are some great, really small, almost obscure, producers.

 ... Shel


 

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I agree with Shel's local and trusted theory, but of course, that will work consistently only for people living near olive groves. It is certainly true that olive oil fraud has been a big issue in Italy historically, and I cannot say that it is not a major problem still, especially at the bulk level, but I can say that, after the PR beating that Italy took over this issue, discovered olive oil fraud now often gets the same television coverage here that serial killers get in most places. (And God help the producer who lies about the added sugar content of confetture (preserves)!)



The way to buy Italian olive oil is to discover the style or styles that you like (Lake Garda, the Ligurian oil from the Taggiasca (Nicoise) olive, Tuscan (really, many different varieties), Umbrian, Sicilian, Pugliese, etc.), find producers that you like, and buy only DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) oils, unless you are in Italy buying directly from the source. Also, most important of all, do not buy old oil. "Use by" dates may protect you against rancid oil, but for truly fresh oil, you want a production date, which is ideally month and year of bottling, but close enough if you buy a good DOP oil in early 2013 with a "2012-13" production date. Harvests and pressing times vary, but oil pressed in the fall of a given year will make it to the U.S. before year-end in some cases, and early in the next year in others. Plenty of one- or two-year old DOP oil will no doubt work its way through the distribution system, too, so perpetual vigilance is required. When I lived in the U.S., I often judged the reliability of gourmet food outlets by the freshness and quality of the olive oil they sold.


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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I certainly wouldn't suggest ignoring smaller producers, simply pointing to sources for review. The listing of the participants in the LA International Olive Oil Competition is riff with producers large and small, with or without affiliations to formalized organizations. These suggestions are for those individuals from other areas that don't have the luxury of tasting oil locally, as do you and I. Also look for harvest dates vs. expiration dates.

Look for the local olive organizations to see who's a member and producer. Ours is the Central Coast Olive Growers www.centralcoastolivegrowers.org Another good source is the listing of results of the Los Angeles Olive Oil competition as part of the LA County fair. Probably the largest number of worldwide entries that will steer you in the right direction.

A good suggestion, but there are quite a few producers that are not members of these organization, and to discount a producer because of their lack of affiliation could be doing a buyer a disservice. OTOH, checking these associations is certainly a good place to start, just don't arbitrarily stop there. There are some great, really small, almost obscure, producers.

Edited by Raoul Duke (log)

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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Morten Thank you so much for this topic. This hadn't come up on my radar At All. After the big salad oil scandal ('60s? '70s?) I thought everything was "cleaned up" (if I gave it any thought at all!)

And thanks to everyone who added comments. I've learned a lot here, and will investigate further. I love eGullet!

Edited by furzzy (log)
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So, how do we know; IS THIS STUFF REALLY, ..... or is it....

I think the idea of buying only Californian is wonderful BUT what protects us when they are/get corrupted too/ totally by the MBA 's 0f America TOO.

I think we may have a really bad time coming because they, the MBA's of corporate America/the world care more for their profits than the health and being of people.

Edited by RobertCollins (log)

Robert

Seattle

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FWW, I believe that Australia has the most stringent olive oil standards and it really pisses the Europeans off. I think there are still institutional problems there, not that I'm an expert.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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"cooking grade" olive oil

why buy this? it probably tastes bad, has none of the beneficial health properties and is the dregs of the oil.

for cooking consider grape seed oil.

keep all your oil in the refrigerator.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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I'd have to say build a relationship with a grower/producer that has a product to suit your taste. It is almost impossible to eliminate deceptive practices in the olive oil biz short of more gov't regulation/intervention. When American producers want more gov't oversight on product the importers scream protectionism and the congress, in typical fashion, ignore the issue. A world wide agreement on testing criteria would be a start.

So, how do we know; IS THIS STUFF REALLY, ..... or is it....

I think the idea of buying only Californian is wonderful BUT what protects us when they are/get corrupted too/ totally by the MBA 's 0f America TOO.

I think we may have a really bad time coming because they, the MBA's of corporate America/the world care more for their profits than the health and being of people.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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  • 1 month later...

From Good Morning America:

This article expanding the segment on the abuses by people up and down the line in the olive oil industry.

Olive Oil Fraud Rampant!

So I am purchasing oil that is certified to be from local producers here in California where (I hope) the standards and the inspections are more stringent.

The local middle eastern store is now carrying Salute Santé - California grapeseed oil which is also "extra virgin" (and more expensive) but it has a lot of advantages, #1 being the high smoke point.

I know some people don't pay much attention to things like this but I am determined to consume products that I believe are as "pure" as possible. I don't want my money going to people who CHEAT.

  • Like 1

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Amen, Andie. Thanks for that link.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Darn. I did several searches for "Olive OIl" and "Olive Oil fraud" but got no pertinent results.

In any event the moderators can move it into the appropriate topic.

It concerns me because I worry that oil from some other source that is really adulterated will be mixed into the huge batches before bottling.

I don't want to consume oils that are not identified - especially if it is really cheap oil from China where they are trying to out produce Spain with questionable growing and production methods. And some of the areas where olive trees are grown are possibly contaminated with "migrating" dust from areas with many toxins in the soil.

It was several years ago that I read the book "The Secret Life of Dust: From the Cosmos to the Kitchen Counter" by Hanna Holmes and since then I have avoided any foods sourced from China.

That, and the fact that a friend who spent three years teaching in China returned here suffering from lead poisoning from breathing the dust there. I was still working at the time and took x-rays of one arm where he had unexplained pain and there was clear evidence of lead in the ends of the bones (my boss had me take x-rays of several other bones) and he had a long, somewhat painful series of chelation treatments to remove the lead from his body.

What my boss found odd was the fact that he had two annual physical exams, including chest x-rays but the examining doctors ignored the obvious deposits of lead in the clavicles and the shoulder blades.

It's bad enough here with so many industries completely ignoring or getting around the various regulations that are supposed to protect the food supply.

In other countries where there are virtually NO safeguards we have to know what is being imported.

There are not enough people working at any of the agencies that are tasked with protecting our food supply and that is just plain wrong. Billions are spent on military hardware but every penny spent to PROTECT the health of our food supply is begrudged.

Sad, isn't it...

  • Like 5

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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