Ugh, this is so depressing. I was doing some research yesterday as I wanted to place an Amazon order for olive oil and couldn’t decide which one to buy…lo and behold, I found a list of fake olive oil brands. And after further research found that, yes, it’s real and not some weird viral hoax. I wasn’t even really thinking this was a thing–I mean, extra-virgin should mean extra-virgin…right?How’d I get started on this “hunt” for better olive oil? I’ve been travelling with my family in Europe for the last 10 days, and man, the olive oil is So. Much. Better than the Colavita we usually buy from our local grocery store. I mean, we’re talking worlds away in terms of taste. So I figured, let me do a bit of research and find some higher quality oil so I have a nice bottle waiting for me when I get home from our trip. Then I can grab a bottle of wine, some (gluten-free) bread and at least PRETEND I am still in Europe, right?
As I researched, I found that most of the olive oil we buy in the grocery store is far from pure. Sigh. Many of the more popular brands are “cut” with low quality vegetable oil and cheap fillers. Deoleo, makers of Bertolli and Carapelli, has been accused in court of adulterating its so-called ‘extra virgin’ olive oil with fillers. Not only that, most of its oil does not come “straight from Italy” but is rather sourced from many different countries and merely bottled in Italy. Sneaky suckers. (link if you’re interested in the legal details)
According to a 2010 investigation performed by UC-Davis, The University of California, Davis, over 70 percent of imported and 10 percent of California-based olive oils are fake, and failed to meet International Olive Council and Department of Agriculture standards to be labelled as extra-virgin. According to the final report:
…Our findings indicate that the quality level of the largest imported brand names is inconsistent at best, and that most of the top- selling olive oil brands we examined regularly failed to meet international standards for extra virgin olive oil.
The full pdf is viewable here.
What does “Extra Virgin” Mean, Anyway?
According to realfarmacy.com:
“In order for an olive oil to truly be “extra virgin,” it must come from fresh, crushed olives, and not be cut with any other oils or additives. It also has to pass certain chemical tests, including sensory evaluations, taste profiles and smell. Based on these criteria, neither Deoleo’s products nor many of the other popular olive oil brands on the market today are truly extra virgin.”
So which olive oils FAILED THE TEST?
Let’s get down it to it. The LIST OF FAKE OLIVE OILS includes the following:
- Filippo Berio –FAIL
- Star –FAIL
All of these oils were adulterated with lower quality oils and/or contained fillers. All of them!
The oils that passed the test include California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate and Lucini. I will be doing a taste test once I receive these in the mail, but based on the reviews they’re all pretty amazing and they’re definitely all pure. If you’ve tried any of these three, please post and let me know your thoughts.
I will also post again with my taste test results once I’ve indulged 😉