Fake Olive Oil Is EVERYWHERE! Here Are 7 Popular Brands You Should Stop Buying NOW!
The olive oil in your kitchen is likely not what you think it is. Fake olive oil is actually wherever available – up to 70% of all locally acquired additional virgin olive oils in the US are fake. Also, by fake I mean cut with less expensive oils.
n 2008, more than 400 Italian police officers conducted an operation called “Operation Golden Oil,” which resulted in 23 arrests and confiscation of 85 farms. Companies were adding chlorophyll to sunflower and soybean oil and selling it as extra virgin olive oil. As a result of these raids, the Australian government decided to allow olive oil brands to submit their oils for lab tests, allowing them to certify companies as pure “extra-virgin olive oil.” Alas, every company failed to gain certification in 2012.
Prompted by all of these olive oil scams, researchers at the University of California decided to test 124 different samples from eight major brands of extra-virgin olive oil. Over 70% of the imported oils failed the test.
What does it mean when oil fails an extra-virgin test? It essentially means that all of these oils claiming to be “extra-virgin” are actually cut with cheaper, lower-grade oils (like canola oil, sunflower oil or cola oil). The oil is them deodorized, colored, and then flavored and sold as “extra-virgin” oil to a producer. So it isn’t actually the company brand that is at fault here – it is the sneaky supplier at work.
The brands that failed to meet the extra virgin olive oil standards were:
– Santa Sabina
– Antica Badia
Filippo Berio, Mazola, Mezzetta, Newman’s Own, Safeway, and Whole Foods are also selling fake olive oil.
Brands that you can trust are:
– California Olive Ranch
– Cobram Estate
– Kirkland Organic
– Lucero (Ascolano)
– McEvoy Ranch Organic
Aside from brands, how can you tell if your oil’s fake?
- Refrigerate the extra virgin olive oil. If it solidifies, it means that it contains mostly monounsaturated fat, which is good because extra virgin olive oil is mostly monounsaturated, and should grow more solid when cold. Putting your oil in the refrigerator will make it become thick and cloudy. If this doesn’t happen, it’s likely that your oil is not extra-virgin. This isn’t a fool-proof test; however, as the olive oils cut with lower grade oils also cloud over. If the oil you put in the fridge doesn’t thicken at all, though, then you know for sure that the oil is fake.
- Extra virgin olive oil should be flammable enough to keep an oil lamp burning. However, this test isn’t that dependable, for the same reasons mentioned above. But if the oil doesn’t keep the wick of an oil lamp burning, you know that it contains mostly refined oils.
The best option is to purchase from the previously mentioned organizations that you can trust, or, purchase from nearby olive oil ranchers. In the United States and Australia, there are accreditations that you can search for on containers. The seal denoting approval by the California Olive Oil Council is labeled as “COOC Certified Extra Virgin.” The Australian Olive Oil Association has a seal labeled as “Australian Extra Virgin Certified.” Other seals of approval are labeled from Italian Oliver Growers’ Association such as Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) and UNAPROL.