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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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NEWS: “Fake” Olive Oil Drama Continues

Innocent or guilty? One of the well-
known extra-virgin olive oils alleged
to be not exactly extra-virgin.


Last week we wrote about shadiness in the olive oil industry: In a study conducted by the Olive Center at the University of California at Davis, 69% of imported oils labeled as extra-virgin were not; 10% of California oils sampled did not meet the standards.

The follow-up news may shock lay people, but it’s just more olive oil “business as usual.”

A group of prominent California restaurateurs and chefs has filed a class-action lawsuit against olive oil distributors and retailers.

The lawsuit, which seeks class action status, targets 10 major olive oil brands: Bertolli, Carapelli, Colavita, Filippo Berio, Mazola, Mezzetta, Pompeian, Rachael Ray, Safeway Select and Star. It also names 10 major supermarket chains and big box stores that allegedly sold substandard oil as “extra-virgin.” This includes olive oil mixed with cheaper types of oil, lower quality olive oil and olive oil degraded by heat or age.

An olive oil labeled “extra-virgin” should assure consumers that the oil was extracted without the use of heat or chemicals, that it is pure, that it satisfies a taste test and that it falls within chemical parameters established by the International Olive Council (IOC).

The lawsuit has been filed just as the U.S. Department of Agriculture prepares to adopt scientifically verifiable standards for nomenclature such as “extra virgin” and “virgin” in an effort to clear up concerns about labeling accuracy. The standards will be implemented in October, and are similar to those upheld by the IOC.

  • Take a look at our Olive Oil Section to learn more, and to discover artisan brands that don’t monkey around with their product.

  • Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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