Controversy over purity of olive oil bubbling over

Some of the most popular brands of imported olive oils have failed to meet international criteria for "extra virgin" in a study conducted by US researchers.

According to scientists at the University of California's Davis Olive Center, 73 percent of the 134 samples from five of the country's top-selling imported "extra virgin" olive oils were found to have defects that would disqualify them under the standards set by the International Olive Council.

The report, released this week, said that the failed olive oils were either oxidized or rancid, of poor quality, or adulterated with cheaper, refined oil.

The top-selling brands tested in the US were Filippo, Berio, Bertolli, Pompeian, Colavita and Star.

Many of these same brands are sold internationally. Bertolli, for example, is sold in the US, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Filippo is sold in the US, Canada, and the UK.

As American consumers spend more than $720 million each year on olive oil, researchers say that the majority are paying a premium price for mislabeled oil.

In a scathing statement, the executive director of the California Olive Oil Council said, "The evidence continues to build that substandard foreign olive oil is being intentionally dumped in the US to take advantage of the growing demand for olive oil among American consumers."

The report was the second and final installment in the California Center's research, a project that has created a stir in the industry and prompted a disapproving response from the International Olive Council last year. The study was criticized for using small sample sizes, unknown storage conditions, chemical testing methods, and sensory analyses of the study.

Their response to the second report was swift, issuing a statement Wednesday from Madrid acknowledging that some of the methodology questions from the first study had been addressed. But the council also expressed concern at the tone of the study, saying it could damage the industry's reputation.

"...both reports have the same evident undercurrent of aggressive, inexplicable criticism of imported olive oil in quality," the statement reads. "This could cause irreparable damage to the reputation of olive oil, which has taken so much time and effort to achieve and maintain and consequently for all of us who work with this product."

The UC Davis Olive Center advises California olive growers and processors through a research and education center. They also work with the California Olive Oil Council to enact olive oil grade standards for the state and promote local products.

"Extra virgin" is the highest grade of olive oil and must be extracted without heat or solvents. International standards also require that "extra virgin" olive oils meet specific criteria for chemical makeup and sensory qualities including flavor and aroma. 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Product Development

    £26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Product Development departm...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

    £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

    Recruitment Genius: Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Estates Contracts & Leases Manager

    £30000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Estates Team of this group ...

    Day In a Page

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory