Your Olive Oil May Be Fake

by Jessica Plourde Hutter, on August 22, 2016

Screen_Shot_2016-08-17_at_3.28.03_PM.pngAmericans love olive oil, but are we buying the real thing?

You can't master Mediterranean cooking without high-quality olive oil. Known around the world for its delicate flavor and numerous health benefits (such as high levels of antioxidants and low cholesterol) this ingredient is perfect for pasta and also makes for a great salad dressing or dipping sauce for bread.

Over the years, Americans have upped their intake of what was literally once considered a nectar of the gods. U.S. imports of olive oil have tripled since 1990, according to Quartz.

Or have they? Recent studies have reached a shocking conclusion: much of the olive oil that we buy may be fake.

Larry Olmsted, author of "Real Food, Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do About It," recently told Mother Jones that most oils sold in the U.S. aren't what they appear to be.

"It's amazing how many people there are in America who don't even know what the real thing tastes like," he said.

It's true that olive oil is one of the more common foods that is susceptible to fraud, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. The Mother Jones article explains that it's a high-demand product that is bottled before consumers can use it, making it difficult for shoppers to assess its quality before making the purchase. In addition, olive oil labeling regulations are entirely voluntary in the U.S. Just because the bottle says "extra virgin" doesn't mean that's what's inside. 

For instance, in 2010 researchers at the University of California-Davis tested several samples of olive oil and found that 69 percent of the products marked "extra-virgin" did not meet international standards. Olmstead writes that some oils are diluted with lower quality stocks, or even soybean oil, to keep costs down.

Of course, it's not just consumers who are being fooled by fake olive oil. Businesses are just as susceptible. In the interest of a more transparent supply chain, firms need to establish trustworthy labeling practices. An Enterprise Labeling Solution can add intelligence and centralized control to your food & beverage labeling, making it easier to establish reliability in product description and country-of-origin declaration.

For more on the importance of food & beverage labeling download out our inforgraphic and survey report.

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Topics:Food & Beverage

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