List of Fake Olive Oil Brands

List of Fake Olive Oil Brands…

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:

  1. Colavita–FAIL
  2. Bertolli–FAIL
  3. Filippo Berio –FAIL
  4. Star –FAIL
  5. Pompeian-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 😉


Post Author: Hillary

27 thoughts on “List of Fake Olive Oil Brands…

    John VanDerLaan

    (May 11, 2016 - 1:30 pm)

    Hi Hillary,

    Awesome post!

    I do all of the cooking and shopping in our household and I often wondered what kind of inspections and regulations existed to keep olive oil companies honest.

    I am not surprised to learn that most companies are not trustworthy when it comes to extra virgin olive oil considering that it is the most used olive oil in the world today.

    I’d love to know if it is possible to buy true extra virgin olive oil in the grocery store here in the US.

    The brands that you list as having passed the test are not on my grocery store’s shelves.

    Thanks again Hillary for exposing these companies!

    JV

    Sadie Chan

    (May 11, 2016 - 1:36 pm)

    Hi Hillary,
    I am particular about using the good quality cooking oil for my food. It is either Coconut oil or Olive oil.
    I do know that there are many Fake olive oil in the market given their cheap price.
    Personally, I take lots of salad and would normally blend with Extra Virgin Olive oil and love it very much.
    I will consider your recommendation on this California Olive Ranch and the few others.
    Thanks for that piece of information.
    Will be back
    Sadie Chan

    Jeff

    (May 11, 2016 - 1:36 pm)

    Okay. I finished reading this. So I go to the cupboard and check it out for myself. Pompeian and Carapelli. Both the “extra virgin” varieties. I thought I had the good stuff. Now it turns out I don’t.

    I guess I don’t know what good olive oil is. Being an American and shopping at the Big Box Discount Retail store and it’s sister Big Box Discount Wholesale store (you know the ones I mean, who shall remain un-named). All you get there is that crap.

    I wonder why manufacturers/importers are allowed to get away with this. I know, I know, there is a segment of voters in the US that want “small government” and “want to keep government out of our lives.” But do the big companies get to just cheat us and get away with it never having to face the consequences?

    Gabriel

    (May 11, 2016 - 1:40 pm)

    I never knew there was such thing as fake olive oil! I don’t know if it’s because i live in Finland and not in the US but i’m totally shocked. I think it’s really good to tell people the truth about the things they use in cooking and eat. I just hate processed food and stuff but sadly it’s way too costly to eat organic food right now. Sorry about blabbering. 😀 I really like your site and i can see that you have put lot of effort in it. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Cloe

    (May 11, 2016 - 1:42 pm)

    Hi! Your article was very interesting! I live in France and we have good olive oils, even from hard discount stores, so I don’t know how US olive oil tastes. But I remember going to other countries outside Europe and feeling how the quality of food was less good when it came to basic products.

    Now, when it comes to marketing, you always have to be careful whatever product you buy and check the labels in detail to see exactly what are the ingredients. Especially for the imported products!

    Robert

    (May 11, 2016 - 2:05 pm)

    Wow! I am shocked that 2 brands which I have used are on that list of failed oils. It is just further proof that the packaged food we eat, especially here in the west is more crap than good, and it’s no wonder most people are in poor health. It will be interesting to see what your assessment is in regards to those oils that passed the test. Thanks for letting us know the truth.

    Craig

    (May 11, 2016 - 2:12 pm)

    It is a real shame that companies “dump” their second-hand products on the American market. They assume that we have unsophisticated pallets and so won’t notice that these products are lower quality.
    The prices don’t reflect the lower quality. Until our regulatory agencies step up and bring them to task, this will continue. Why should they provide the highest quality when there are no repercussions to providing lower quality to a market that won’t notice.
    Our only repercussion is to vote with our pocketbooks and make them realize that we do understand what is being done.

    dinh

    (May 11, 2016 - 7:02 pm)

    Why is this not regulated under FDA? It’s crazy to think that we buy olive oil and it’s cut with other oils.
    I usually buy extra virgin oil for using with salads and use regular olive oil for cooking so now I will look out for the brands that you listed that didn’t pass the test.

    Do you have any organic olive oils that passed the test?

      Hillary

      (May 12, 2016 - 9:06 am)

      well, in a way it is. I mean, they’re finally being called out on the mislabelling due to a court case, so that’s good. But as consumers we really need to be informed–companies will do their best to withold any information they can.

    Derek

    (May 11, 2016 - 7:16 pm)

    Thank you so much for the great information!

    I never even thought that this could be happening. Glad you wrote this. I checked to see what I have and sure enough I have one of the fakes. But now I know which ones to buy.

    Thanks again!

      Hillary

      (May 12, 2016 - 9:05 am)

      You’re welcome, Derek. glad it proved useful–and I had to do some cupboard cleaning myself LOL.

    Henning

    (May 12, 2016 - 6:06 pm)

    Thanks for the useful information about olive oil in general and the fake oils in particular. I will make good use of it and vote with my money.

    Harriet

    (May 12, 2016 - 8:22 pm)

    I use California Olive Ranch and love it. It’s affordable and very good. If you’re looking for a boutique brand, try Pasolivo (http://www.pasolivo.com/). I actually belong to their “club” where I get 3x per year. They are delicious and can have a very strong flavor, if you like that sort of thing.

      Hillary

      (May 12, 2016 - 8:41 pm)

      Harriet–omgosh an olive oil club? I am SO IN. I am definitely joining–is this at pasolivo.com!! ]strong is good (for me at least).

      Hillary

      (May 14, 2016 - 4:48 am)

      California Olive Ranch is one of the three I’m “taste testing”.My life is so rough.

    Allison

    (May 14, 2016 - 1:43 am)

    I love your post! I am sad to hear of these fakes but happy to read the truth about them. Unfortunately, I usually rotate between two of the fakes on the list. I’m bummed to hear that they’re not as pure as I thought. Thanks for sharing this and opening the eyes of the consumers. I’m surprised that these items are able to be labeled this way. It is so misleading.

      Hillary

      (May 14, 2016 - 4:48 am)

      It is really disappointing, isn’t it! Thanks for your comment and hope you continue to stop by!

    J Mario

    (May 16, 2016 - 5:38 pm)

    Wow, I’ve been buying Bertolli for a long time thinking I was getting a quality product . You have opened my eyes

    Thanks!

    Lefty

    (May 16, 2016 - 5:41 pm)

    Olive oil bandits! Though I do like olive oil, I’m a long way removed from being an expert about it. Always some scamsters out there right? At least now I’ll know what brands to look for AND avoid! thanks for educating me 🙂

    Joana

    (May 16, 2016 - 8:22 pm)

    Hi Hilary, vow i need to check what i buy. As i was like you–just buying extra virgin oil, not really paying attention to the brand. But you know something really interesting happened to me when i was buying coconut oil. Couple months ago i bought 100 % organic coconut oil as i use it as my hair mask, and i was thinking it is a “real” product. But then the other day i was in a different shop and i bought a different label jar but it said 100 % organic coconut oil. The only difference is that the last one really smells like coconut, you kind of want to eat it, but the first one does not smell at all! And the label said 100 % organic… So we really need to watch what we buy…

    Vivian

    (May 17, 2016 - 1:16 pm)

    Hi Hilary. I am a huge fan of olive oil and your article has really opened my eyes. You mentioned Colavita and Bertolli and both are the brands that I usually buy.
    I will need to be more careful next time.
    Thanks for the information. 🙂

    Diane

    (May 18, 2016 - 11:24 pm)

    Great post Hillary!! I will definitely share this with my husband. He is the shopper in the house and he will find your information very enlightening. We do a lot of stir fry with olive oil and now I understand the true meaning of “extra virgin”. Thanks, again for sharing.

    Sepano

    (June 11, 2016 - 12:13 am)

    I was definitely unaware of this practice of cutting the oils, yet I am not surprised that such companies are cutting corners like this. Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention.

    I like what your website is all about. We need more awareness and attention turned towards the foods and products we consume on a daily basis.

      Hillary

      (June 11, 2016 - 12:15 am)

      Thanks Sepano, I appreciate your stopping by 🙂

    John Savage

    (June 16, 2016 - 12:05 pm)

    astonishing!!

    Who would have thought this would 1) be the case and 2) allowed to happen?

    How are these companies able to make a statement like Extra virgin olive oil and not be extra virgin at all??

    Tim

    (August 6, 2016 - 2:37 pm)

    Hi Hillary,

    I never knew that olive oil brands are not as pure as one would think. This article will go to my wife. She will find this very interesting.

    This is a unique post and i like how you incorporated your images with the easy flow of reading.

    I am learning a lot form a subject I know little about. You bring excitement in the words you write.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Tim

      Hillary

      (August 9, 2016 - 1:52 am)

      I am so happy you found it helpful Tim! Let me know what you think of the “good” olive oils if you get a chance to try them. I find them to be SO much better in terms of flavor.

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