Olive oil, in its true, unadulterated form, is a wonderful staple to a healthy lifestyle. Olive oil’s health benefits are unrivaled and researched to include numerous advantages from reducing inflammation and reducing risk of diabetes to fighting osteoporosis and keeping your heart healthy and strong.
So yes, I love my olive oil and I take my olive oil very seriously. So to think that my olive oil might be an impostor really grinds my gears. Not only is this a staple in my home, but it’s expensive! Good quality olive oil can range from $25 to over $100 for just a 16 oz. container!
This post is for informational purposes only and is not be intended as medical advice. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.
Is My Olive Oil An Impostor?
Just last month, police in Italy nabbed 7,000 tons of phony olive oil! The worst part is that most of it was bound for American stores. The oil was from North Africa, deodorized with chemicals and re-branded as more expensive Italian extra virgin olive oil. CBS covered the story during an episode of 6o Minutes.
This isn’t a recent finding either, In 2008, Italian police arrested over 60 people and closed more than 90 farms and processing plants across the south after uncovering substandard, non-Italian olive oil being passed off as Italian extra virgin, and chlorophyll and beta-carotene being added to sunflower and soybean oil with the same aim.
How could they tell the oil was phony? well, leave it to the Italians to fight the Olive oil mafia with good taste. There is an expert panel of professional taste-testers who certify the authenticity of extra virgin olive oil. These experts and their testimony is so well-respected and reliable that it can actually be used as evidence in a court case.
These experts can tell at first sip whether extra virgin has been diluted with cheap sunflower oil or canola, and the verdict? Most of them were! It is said that easily half of the bottles that are sold as extra virgin in supermarkets in Italy do not meet the legal grades for extra virgin oil. In the US, it’s even worse! Up to 85% of olive oils can really be cheap substitutes that WE are paying a premium for!
This branded “Agro Mafia” is not solely focused on olive oil either. They have been caught doing this horrendous scam with Italian wines, cheeses, milk, butter and even breads. All of my favorite things!! How rude!
(Not-So) Fun Fact: This scamming agro-mafia industry is even more lucrative than the cocaine drug industry!
How To Buy Authentic Olive Oil
Understandably so, you want to know how to buy authentic olive oil.
I know you might be feeling like you never want to buy extra virgin olive oil again, but keep in mind that there are many exceptionally fine brands of extra virgin olive oil produced in the United States and in Europe, which meet standards for their claims.
- If you can find a local seller, that’s a great option. Make sure they keep their oil clean and in temperature-controlled stainless steel containers topped with an inert gas (like nitrogen) to keep oxygen at bay, and make sure they bottle it as they sell it. You should always ask for a taste test before purchasing!
- Find bottles or containers that protect against light like amber or dark colored glass.
- Believe it or not, the color is not always the tell-all in olive oil. Worry less about the color. Good oils come in all shades, from green to gold to pale straw.
- Ensure that your oil is labelled “extra virgin,” and don’t settle for similar wording like”pure” or “light” oil, “olive oil” and “olive pomace oil” (which means chemical solvents and extreme high temperatures.) Most of these have likely undergone chemical refinement.
- Most bottles have a date of harvest. Try to take a look at that or a “best by” date, which should be two years after an oil was bottled.
- PDO (protected designation of origin) and PGI (protected geographical indication) labeling and status should inspire some confidence, although they are not always 100% reliable.
- Beware of the terms”first pressed” and “cold pressed”. Since most extra virgin oil nowadays is made with centrifuges, it isn’t actually”pressed” at all, and true extra virgin oil comes exclusively from the first processing of the olive paste.
For more info on good buying practices see extravirginity.com.
Beware Of These Olive Oil Brands
These brands have notably been under fire as mis-representing the quality of their oil.
- Filippo Berio
- Mazzola, Mezzetta
- Newman’s Own
- Whole Foods
The Real Deal: Authentic Olive Oil Brands
These brands have checked out in terms of quality and transparency.
- California Olive Ranch (buy here)
- Cobram Estate
- Lucini. (buy here)
- Kirkland Organic (buy here)
- Lucero (Ascolano) (buy here)
- McEvoy Ranch Organic
Do you know of more? Comment below!
Keep The Olive Oil, Lose The Frauds
It’s unfortunate that there are huge organized operations going on solely to scam unknowing consumers out of authentic products, but hopefully when educate our selves on these issues and how to avoid them, we can continue making the best educated decisions for ourselves and our families. Don’t forget to share this information with your friends and family. With more attention brought to these issues, hopefully the pressure will crumble these scam artists and this will soon be a problem of the past.
Stay well, my friends!
Naturally Nicole XO