Combatting Olive Oil Fraud


Olives are often an acquired taste. Found in relatively dry coastal climates, olives propagate throughout the Mediterranean region, the dry Pacific coast of North and South America and Australia, as well as some temperate climates in New Zealand and Wales, and even in some desert climates with the help of irrigation.
As one of the most prolific fruit crops in the world, olives are also one of the most extensively cultivated. Olive trees have been referenced in Ancient Greek and Roman writings as well as Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic texts. More important than the fruit itself, olives are valued for the oil they produce.  
But there is a major controversy in the olive oil world. Unfortunately, this controversy is not new. It has been happening for over a millennia. It is a case of fraud. Olive oil fraud. Olive oil fraud relating specifically to a extra virgin olive oil. The most recent controversy affecting the olive oil industry involves the Italian mafia and the Italian production of extra virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is defined as the first pressing of an olive harvest and contains no additives.

Olive oil producers may dupe us in a few different ways:
          •  mixing lower grade olive oil with some extra virgin olive oil
          • combining other kinds of seed oils, like sunflower oil, with drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene with
             extra virgin olive oil
          • outright counterfeit olive oil: soy, hazelnut, fish oils mixed with olive-pomace oil (made from the olive
Then the olive oil is often knowingly mislabeled, and occasionally spoiled by the time it comes to market. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, many multinational commercial forces across multiple industries, lax governmental oversights, and underfunded or corrupt food inspection agencies worldwide mislead consumers into purchasing inferior products at higher prices that may also have severe health repercussions, in regards to food allergies as well as spoiled goods.
So what can we do?
Experts at the UC Davis Olive Center believe that education is the key:

  • What are you using the olive oil for? Cook with mid-priced oil, If it’s cooking, a lower grade oil is best. Extra virgin olive oil is better for drizzling over fresh breads, cheeses, and vegetables.
  • Know the source. If you can purchase olive oil locally or directly from a producer online, you avoid potential deceit from the larger food corporations and any middlemen.
  • If you can’t purchase locally or directly, demand that your grocery stores purchase properly labeled and verifiable olive oil.
  • Look for containers that combat the enemies of olive oil: heat and light. These containers will be made of dark colored glass or tin, or will have a label that will cover most of the bottle.
  • Examine the label. What should you look for on a label?
          • Origin: not only of a country, but also a specific region
          • Harvest date: the further away the two-year date is, the fresher the oil is
          • Date of bottling
          • Cultivators - olive varieties used
          • Seal of quality

  • Pay attention to price. Think of the premium price as a reflection of a craft or artisanal movement, where each variety is tended and produced with the highest expectations of quality and care.
  • Keep in a cool, dark location to maintain freshness.
  • Purchase in small quantities. Treat extra virgin olive oil as a luxury item to be savored and appreciated, but also to be enjoyed during its peak freshness.

If olive oil, in any form, is a part of your household meal preparation and consumption, then selecting the best possible products for you and your family is paramount.

Consult with the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers on olive oil use and consumption as it relates to your weight management goals.

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