Is nothing sacred anymore? I love olive oil and have been using it for many years. It is good for your heart, helps reduce risk of stroke, is great for your cholesterol levels and more. So I was very disappointed to learn that this wonderful product is being tampered with by the unscrupulous. My favorite has been EVOO (Extra Virigin Olive Oil) because of its lighter taste. I would hunt for good sales because I use it often and don’t like to run out. Now it turns out that I don’t really know what I’ve been buying. Here’s the real deal on olive oil.
A staggering 69% of all store bought olive oils in the US are fake. Many that claim to be Italian are only bottled in Italy and not produced there. Many companies cut the olive oil with cheaper refined oil to increase their bottom line. Standards established by the International Olive Oil Council (OIC) found the following:
Of the ﬁve top-selling imported “extra virgin” olive oil brands in the United States, 73 percent of the samples failed the IOC sensory standards for extra virgin olive oils analyzed by two IOC-accredited sensory panels. The failure rate ranged from a high of 94 percent to a low of 56 percent depending on the brand and the panel. None of the Australian and California samples failed both sensory panels, while 11 percent of the top-selling premium Italian brand samples failed the two panels. Sensory defects are indicators that these samples are oxidized, of poor quality, and/or adulterated with cheaper reﬁned oils.
3 ways to check if your EVOO is real:
- Check for the harvest date.
- See where it comes from (this means the specific region, not just the country)
- Check the cultivars (A cultivar is a plant or grouping of plants selected for desirable characteristics), or what olives the oil is composed of.
If these essential elements are missing, it doesn’t speak well to the quality of the oil or the producer. It is probably fake.
According to Consumer Reports’ study, many expensive imported olive oils just didn’t make the cut, even compared to American-grown brands that are available at a fraction of the price.The freshness with olive oil is important, and a cheap but freshly-pressed extra virgin olive oil is better than an expensive one that’s been stored for weeks before shipping, only to sit on a store shelf for weeks.
Also, stay away from anything labeled extra light. Extra light refers not to the fat content, but to the the fact it’s technically more clear and refined than standard olive oil. Extra light typically has almost no flavor or color.
I’m switching to American produced oil while the powers that be try to get a handle on this situation and if you are health conscious should consider doing the same. Next time you go shopping just remember to really examine the label so you can keep enjoying this healthy, wonderful product.