Olive Oil – Real or Fake

olive oil

Fake versus Real Olive Oil

Over 70% of the olive oil sold worldwide is fake–watered down, made from olives from multiple regions, and for extra virgin olive oil contains more than 0.8% acidity.  Studies revealed that 65% of imported oils did not meet the standards for EVOO, even though the label said the standards were met.  Some of the olive oils were not even olive oil at all, sometimes being sunflower, hazelnut, and canola oil which had been dyed to look like EVOO.  Here are some steps to ensure that your olive oil is real:

1.  Look for olive oil in a dark glass bottle, since light spoils the oil.

2.  Look for harvest date (not best by date) because this will show when oil was made.  Buy within 15 months of harvest date

3.  Look for a quality seal (ex: California Olive Oil Council) which requires oils to pass strict sensory and chemistry regulations).  If an imported oil, look for a specific producer (mill or orchard).  The label will say produced in Italy not packed in Italy (oil could have come from Tunisia, Spain, Italy, etc).

COOC label

4.  Put your EVOO in the fridge overnight.  If it freezes or almost to the point of freezing, you are fairly sure what you are consuming is pure EVOO.  If it does not freeze, you are fairly certain it is not EVOO since 100% EVOO should freeze in the temp of your fridge.

Buying Tips

1. Olive oil is not like wine. It does not get better with age. The three things that cause olive oil to go rancid are light, heat, and oxygen. If the olive oil you are buying is in a clear glass bottle, that’s not as good as a dark glass bottle. In any case, store your olive oil sealed, in a cool dark location.

2. Buy Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Make sure the label states this explicitly. Buying oils labeled as “Pure” or “Light” does not guarantee the quality of oil, and most certainly means it is NOT Extra Virgin.

3. “Imported from Italy” and similar phrases mean diddly-squat, same for the nice pastoral images on the bottle. Italy does grow olives, but it is also the world’s largest importer of olive oil from countries such as Greece, Spain and Tunisia. Italian companies mix and bottle the oils, some of which are not the best quality. Some bottles include information about the region and a date that the olives were harvested – try for oil younger than 15 months.

4. If the label mentions FFA of 0.8% or lower (0.5% is really good), that is a plus. FFA stands for free fatty acidity (or just plain acidity). The higher the number, the more rancid the oil.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil must be 0.8% or lower.  Virgin Olive Oil must be 2.0% or lower.  Extra Virgin Olive Oil has the most benefits.

5. Cold Pressed is a label that means that the extraction process of the oil from the olive took place at 27 degrees or lower. This means you are getting all the beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that may have been stripped out when oil is processed at a higher temperature.

6. The color of the olive oil does not really matter much.  Similar to wine, there are hundreds of olive varietals, and their resulting oils each have distinct color, aroma, and flavor characteristics.

7. If an olive oil is cheaper than about $10 per liter (quart), it may have been mixed with lower quality oils. Making olive oil is an expensive business, and there’s a certain minimum cost to mauling trees, harvesting, and mechanically squeezing oil out of the fruit.  Most other oils are extracted chemically from their respective crop.

“Real” Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Most EVOO sold in stores have been watered down.  The following is a list of authentic EVOO:

  • Corto Olive
  • California Olive Ranch
  • Kirkland Organic
  • Lucero (Ascolano)
  • McEvoy Ranch Organic
  • Terra Medi

* I use Terra Medi and California Olive Ranch.  Love them 🙂

“Fake” or Watered-down EVOO:

  • Bertolli
  • Carapelli
  • Flippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Pompeian
  • Rachel Ray
  • Safeway
  • Star
  • Whole Foods
  • Colavita

* Do not cook with EVOO.  Many chefs heat it in the cooking process. They are dumb… do not listen to them.  Once EVOO is heated, the chemical make-up changes and you lose the health benefits of it.

* * When shopping for EVOO, try to find dark green oil inside dark green glass bottle. Keep bottles away from any light as this changes the chemical makeup of the oil, therefore reducing the benefits.

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