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    Archive for the ‘International Olive Oil Council’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Olive Oil Regulations

    Your post on the adulteration of olive oil freaks me out as I had no idea about this.

    I recently mentioned this to a friend who told me that she didn’t quite buy into this.

    [She said] food was tested and regulated by the government.

    [Since that] post is from a year ago, [do you have] any updates, Andy?

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    I’m afraid there aren’t many updates to that posting.

    The United States still has not joined the International Olive Oil Council, and olive oil adulteration is alive and well throughout the world.

    I’m not too sure what your friend isn’t buying into. After all, The Food & Drug Administration performs random tests on olive oil entering the United States.

    Adulterated oils making their way in from abroad — and being produced nationally! — is not a far-fetched idea.

    There simply are not enough resources to test every single bottle. Hence, high-profile cases of olive oil adulteration come to light once these products are on supermarket shelves — NOT when they arrive to US shores.

    Additionally, dishonest manufacturers know how to play the game.

    They know how to make these lower-quality oils pass as genuine olive oil in the administered tests. That is precisely why many olive oil experts are calling for more detailed biochemical examination of samples.

    Olive oil adulteration is not an undocumented urban legend.

    Your friend might be interested in reading this. Or this. And this.

    In the meantime, if this is a concern for you, I recommend purchasing your olive oil from any of the California Olive Oil Council’s approved producers.

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    In The News: Olive Oil and Aging

    Mariam Amash is an Israeli woman who claims to be 120 years old.

    If this factoid is validated, it would make her the oldest documented person in the world.

    When asked about her longevity secrets, one of Mariam’s daughters pointed out that her mother drinks “a glass of olive oil every day.”

    Very well then.

    Yesterday afternoon, Mary Kearl of AOL Body & Mind asked me about that claim, as well as the beneficial properties of olive oil.

    Read the article — including my comments — here.

    PS: There is a slight “quoting error” I notified the author about.

    I had mentioned that the Food & Drug Administration does not test imported oils, but the article erroneously identifies the United States Department of Agriculture as the organization.

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    In The News: Corrupted Virginity

    Extra virgin olive oil is considered the champion of all oils thanks to its high amounts of polyphenols, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats.

    This powerful combination has been shown to decrease risks of heart disease (by lowering ‘bad cholesterol’), high blood pressure, and even breast cancer, according to some promising research from the Canary Islands.

    Sounds great, doesn’t it?

    Well, here’s a reality check you might not be too keen on cashing — that “extra virgin” olive oil you have been buying might be anything but!

    Reader Chris Davis notified me of a lengthy article published by The New Yorker earlier this year which spotlights worldwide olive oil fraud, a market laden with corruption and political scandals that can produce as much money as cocaine trafficking.

    Since reading the article, I have done a bit more research and want to share the not too uplifting news with you.

    A lot of supposed extra-virgin olive oil is really soy or hazelnut oil that has been adulterated.

    Unfortunately, the words “imported from Italy” do not necessarily mean what you think.

    If low-quality oils from North Africa are shipped to Italy, where they are then tampered with and bottled, the packaging can legally claim that oil is an Italian import.

    You might take that to mean that Tuscan olives from a small farm are made into extra virgin olive oil. Wrong!

    The Food and Drug Administration does not test oils coming into the United States for adulteration.

    Although a group known as the North American Olive Oil Association takes care of that — and they have discovered several distributors selling inferior quality oils as extra virgin — their testing is nowhere near as rigorous as that f the International Olive Oil Council.

    There are currently several proactive anti-fraud ideas being floated around.

    One would require all bottles of extra virgin olive oil to list the acidity of their contents (to be considered extra virgin, olive oil must contain an acidity of no more than 0.8%).

    Of course, who is to say that these figures can’t be doctored with the exchange of cold hard cash?

    One interesting solution to this problem comes from the region of Andalucia in Spain (one of the world’s largest manufacturers of olive oil). There are talks of using molecular cell technology to determine if olive oil labeled as extra virgin matches the structure of the authetic product.

    In the meantime, what can you do as a consumer? From a label standpoint, look for any bottles bearing the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) stamp of approval.

    If this is absent, see if the label lists the acidity figures for the supposed extra virgin olive oil. Look for an acidity level of 0.8% or less.

    No luck? Look at the price tag. A liter of olive oil at $7.99 is highly unlikely to be extra virgin.

    For more information, check out the International Olive Oil Council’s website.

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