Mar 05 2017

Consumers tricked again by food suppliers

Published by at 12:50 pm under GMO's,Organic

Consumers tricked again by food suppliers
The agromafia in Italy passed off fake olive oil to the public, making billions.  

Unfortunately, the public is repeatedly deceived by food suppliers. This continues to be an important topic of many of our blog posts in the hope of creating awareness. It is infuriating when we try to do the right thing by purchasing and consuming what we believe are “healthy foods” to find out we were duped by greedy companies or individuals who just want to fatten their own wallet, while deceiving the public at such an insidious level. From dyes added to farmed salmon, to GMO vegetables, to chemical additives, we continually are shocked at what gets added to our food supply without us knowing. Despite our best efforts to eat right, we can be undermined by the products that we trust.

This is the case with olive oil coming out of Italy. This story, which has been a topic of interest for some time and was reported in depth not too long ago on 60 Minutes, is being taken very seriously by the Italian government. The crooks behind this case of fraud is a mafia group, who have found a billion dollar industry in passing blends or other not pure oil off as 100% virgin olive oil. Recently, “…33 suspects in the Calabrian mafia’s Piromalli clan, a criminal enterprise whose illicit dealings allegedly include exporting fake extra virgin olive oil to the United States…” were arrested. Called the agromafia, they had an elaborate scheme to pass off fake olive oil, or olive oil blended with other oils as 100% extra virgin olive oil. Last year, high quality olive oil was selling at $50 or more per gallon while fake versions cost as little as $7 per gallon. (1,2)*

“…In Europe, the International Olive Council, chartered by the United Nations, establishes standards and works to ensure that products labeled extra-virgin, the highest grade of oil, live up to their billing; the countries do the policing. …“ 3*

So what is extra virgin olive oil? “According to the IOC, extra-virgin olive oil must meet strict chemical and organoleptic (taste and smell) standards, including low levels of acidity and ultraviolet-light absorption. (High levels suggest poor processing or deterioration.) It has been extracted from mashed fruit by mechanical means, not through the use of heat or chemicals, which can reduce flavor. It should have at least some fruitiness and be free of defects in flavor and aroma….”(3,4)*

What makes olive oil extra virgin? “First…

  • The oil must come from fresh olives that were milled within 24 hours of their harvest.
  • Next, it must be extracted by mechanical means, not from heat or chemicals.
  • They must not be treated chemically in any way.
  • Extra virgin oil is, in fact, fresh olive juice.
  • Being a fruit, olives contain natural antioxidants that protect the plant during its lifetime.
  • When the olive tree is very old it contains more of these antioxidants.
  • This is one of the reasons that olive trees are often hundreds of years old and create antioxidant rich products…”.(3,4)

When purchasing extra virgin olive oil, how do you know a fake from the real thing?

  1. Look for the International Olive Oil Council (IOC) seal.
  2. Stay away from “light” olive oil or blends, as these are not virgin quality.
  3. Purchase oils in dark bottles only. The dark bottle protects from oxidation
  4. What’s the price? If it is less than $10 a liter, chances are it’s not real. .
  5. Authentic virgin olive oil should have a harvesting date on the label.
  6. Do a taste test. Real virgin olive oil will taste fruity in the front of your mouth and have a peppery taste in the back. 4*

After all the news of the fraudulent oils, we now have a list of those oils that failed to meet the standard as “extra virgin”?

  • Filippo Berio
  • Bertolli
  • Colavita
  • Newman’s Own
  • Star
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Carapelli
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods (4,5)*

These oils did meet the standards:

  • California Olive Ranch
  • Bariani Olive Oil “…is Stone Crushed, Cold Pressed, Decanted and Unfiltered California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and they are committed to producing an authentic extra virgin olive oil which is raw. Weston Price recommends this oil…”
  • Corto Olive – sometimes available at Costco.
  • Cobram Estate  – Most awarded extra virgin olive oil in Australia.
  • Lucero (Ascolano)
  • McEvoy Ranch Organic
  • Ottavio
  • Omaggio
  • Whole Foods California 365 
  • Olea Estates 100% extra virgin olive oil (4,5)*

In a 2012 issue of Consumer Reports, the results of a taste test of 138 bottles of extra virgin olive oil from 23 manufacturers were published. Of those sourced from Italy, the US, Greece, Argentina and Chile, the  California oils ranked higher than those from Italy.

Besides the fact that we want to receive honest products, there are serious health concerns when it comes to food fraud. Someone with food allergies could have a reaction when they believe they are getting one thing yet receive another. Some “…agromafia products have also been found to include low-quality contaminants, which presents an additional set of risks…”1*

So, follow the guidelines laid out above and be a smart consumer when it comes to all your purchases. Read labels. Look for stamps of certification. And continue to buy the products that meet the standards of organic and authentic.

Healthiest wishes,





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