How pure is your olive oil?

November 30, 2008 § 5 Comments

 Recent controversy has led to articles being published on the purity of olive oil. We expect we are getting what the label tells us when we by the oil; but not so, says Connecticut food importer Luciano Sclafani. In an article to the Lexington Herald in Kentucky on Nov. 22, 2008, he had tests performed when he suspected a three liter tin of extra virgin olive oil was retailing for only $9.99. In reality, a quantity of EVOO such as this should go for around $25-30. The tests revealed the oil in the tin was 90 percent soybean oil and 10 percent pomace (oil that’s collected from the ground flesh and pits of olives after pressing). Extra virgin olive oil often sells retail eight to ten times more than soy oil! Shocking? You bet!

Only olives in you olive oil?

Only olives in your olive oil?

Time-travel back to a piece submitted to the Living Section of the New York Times in 1996 by Richard J. Sullivan, the President of North American Olive Oil Association in Matawan, N.J. who claimed that “the facts support a near-perfect record for the purity of olive oil sold in the United States”. He goes on to say “Everything is done in accordance with procedures in the ‘Agreement to Monitor the Olive Oils and Olive-Pomace Oils Marketed in the United States and Canada'”. With that said one must take into consideration that this was written 12 years ago.

So, what has happened since then? If Mr. Sullivan was correct, something surely has gone south.

What standards do we have in place now to ensure purity and truth in advertising? Enter an article from the Connecticut Post dated November 21, 2008, which says that Connecticut became the first state in the nation last week to regulate the purity of olive oil. Previously, there were no regulations in place by the Federal Government to ensure the purity of olive oil. After many complaints, state Department of Consumer Protection has prompted “regulations to ensure purity standards by requiring that any additive must be indicated on the labeling”.

Food allergies? Be careful what olive oil you select, then. Until there is national regulation in place, you may not know that you are consuming soy or nut oils mixed with your olive oil, and that can spell trouble if you have an allergy. As state officials point out, there’s a health issue at play. Deceptive labeling that does not identify the addition of cheaper soy oil, for example, which can be harmful to people with soy allergies.


Let’s hope Connecticut’s lead will open the door to regulate the Olive Oil industry throughout all of the United States.

More links: Snake Oil?


Live Well Naturally Newsletter: Will the Real “Extra Virgin” Olive Oil Please Stand Up?


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