Despite stringent standards set by the International Olive Oil Council and the United States Department of Agriculture to regulate the purity of olive oil sold in the U.S., 75-80% of the U.S. olive oil brands do not meet the legal standards to be sold as “extra virgin.”
73% of the brands fail the ‘extra virgin olive oil test’, based on one or more of the following -oxidation by exposure to high temperatures, adulteration with cheaper, highly refined olive oil, oils made from olives damaged from storage of the olives, oils pressed from over-ripe or highly processed olives.
A ‘60 Minutes’ investigation, exposed mafia involvement in Italian agriculture and the shady underworld of the olive oil
“You in many cases are getting lower grade olive oil that has been blended with some good extra virgin olive oil…you’re sometimes getting deodorized oil,” Tom Mueller an expert investigator said. “They blend it with some oil that has some character to give it a little color, a little flavor…and they sell that as extra virgin. It’s illegal – it happens all the time.”
It was demonstrated how easy it is to counterfeit extra virgin olive oil.
Taking a vial of colourless, odourless sunflower oil, he added a few drops of chlorophyll. “It becomes the color of olive oil,” Mueller said. It’s as simple as that.
Sicilian olive oil producer, Nicola Clemenza, is leading a 200-farmer uprising against mafia control in the region.
“On the day I started the consortium, they burned my car, they burned down part of my home and I was inside wit y wife and my daughter,” Clemenza said.
The top-selling brand in the United States is Bertolli, which is the subject of a high-profile fraud investigation and multiple class action lawsuits.
When sourcing olive oil, look for local grower and harvest and/or press date. It is ideal to ingest the current year’s harvest. Cobram Estate has won many international awards next to the worlds best producers - this is a genuine brand with high quality methods and is found in most supermarkets in Australasia. https://cobramestate.com.au/