The popularity of olive oil in the USA has risen dramatically over the last decade. Unfortunately, the growing demand has resulted in increasingly deceptive marketing and labeling of olive oil products, an attempt to willfully mislead customers who will often pay premium prices for inferior products sold as extra virgin olive oil. Buyer beware, because many—if not most—of these oils are not what they claim.
A few facts about extra virgin olive oil fraud:
- Many horror stories describe elaborate bait-and-switch scenarios involving soybean oil or common vegetable oil masquerading as olive oil, but such incidents are rare.
- The fraud you are more likely to encounter in your grocery aisle involves the blending of high and low quality olives for sale as extra virgin olive oil. This common trick involves refining low quality olive oil through heating to remove odor and impurity, and mixing the result with extra virgin olive oil to impart the flavor of better olive oil.
- Labels may prominently display that the oil is “packed in Italy.” Information on the origin of the olives, however, will be hidden in small text or omitted entirely. This is likely because the olive oil has been imported from another country and only bottled in Italy.
Genuine extra virgin olive oil is collected from the first pressing of ripe olives for the freshest possible oil.
To ensure your olive oil is the real deal, follow these tips:
- Always check the ingredients. If refined olive oil is listed, the product is not authentic extra virgin olive oil.
- A quality olive oil will proudly detail its origin—the location of the mill where the olives were pressed and the grove from which they were harvested.
- Look for a harvest date on the bottle. Olive oil degrades over time, and fresher oil will be better, more flavorful oil.
- Look for the DOP seal, designating a Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Domain of Origin). This certifies that the olives were grown, harvested and pressed in the same region.
For our part, Manhattan Fruitier sources our extra virgin olive oil from Villa Cappelli. Their oil is a DOP certified product of the Appia Traiana region of southern Italy, unrefined, unfiltered and brimming with flavor. It’s the real deal.
Mediterranean Diet hamper featuring Villa Cappelli’s authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To learn more about extra virgin olive oil, its health benefits, and how to pick a quality bottle, we recommend Tom Mueller’s website Truth in Olive Oil. A presto!