Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Aug

Is Your Olive Oil Really Olive Oil?

oliveoil3For thousands of years, humans have been picking, prizing, and pressing the fatty drupes found among the oblong leaves of the gnarled, twisted olive tree into rich, green-gold extra virgin olive oil. And for almost as many thousands of years, humans have been coming up with ways to fake it, to pass off cheaper, less delicious, less nutritious oils as the real thing. The earliest known written mention of olive oil – from Syria, 24 BC – describes how court-appointed inspectors would tour olive oil processing facilities to ensure quality, purity, and the absence of fraud. In ancient Rome, the vessels containing olive oil bore detailed information about the contents, including varietal of fruit used, place of origin, name of producer, the weight and quality of the oil, the name of the importer, plus the name of the official who inspected it and confirmed the previously mentioned data. Let’s just say they really, really liked their olive oil, and that olive oil adulteration has always been an issue.

It continues today, of course, and studies are bearing out the fact that extra virgin olive oil is often adulterated with cheaper, more refined, deodorized olive oils, oils from olives deemed unfit for human consumption, and/or random nut, seed, and vegetable oils spiked with chlorophyll and beta-carotene to replicate the authentic color. An Australian study found that over half the supermarket EVOO was anything but, even the supposedly legit stuff from the Mediterranean countries; New Zealand researchers had similar results with Mediterranean imports into their country. Last year, a University of California at Davis study (PDF) found that 69% of imported extra virgin olive oils failed to meet international standards, while 90% of California EVOO tested passed (the study was partially financed by major California olive oil producers, and producers of some of the failed imports are crying foul). Similar adulteration is taking place in China, where imported olive oil is mixed with cheap seed oils. In 2007, the New Yorker published a harrowing account of widespread and longstanding fraud in the Italian olive oil industry (“Profits were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks”), and more recently, a study found that four out of five Italian olive oils were “debased.”

I’ve spent the last few years recommending that you eat extra virgin olive oil, and now it appears as if the fraud is pervasive enough to throw everything you thought you knew into a state of confusion. So what are you supposed to do? How do you know if your olive oil is actually olive oil?

The Fridge Test

By now, you’ve probably all heard about it: to test the legitimacy of a supposed olive oil, stick it in the fridge for a day or two. If it begins to solidify, you’ve got yourself a bottle of true extra virgin olive oil. Does it hold true?

Kinda.

Pure monounsaturated fat, also known as oleic acid, solidifies at 39 degrees F. Since olive oil is primarily oleic acid (about 70-85 percent, generally), sticking a bottle of real olive oil in the fridge should elicit solidification. The original olive oil adulterants, sunflower oil and safflower oil, were mostly polyunsaturated, so adulterating olive oil used to be easy to spot. Now, with high-oleic sunflower oil, high-oleic safflower oil, and high-oleic canola oil on the scene, adulterated olive oil can still solidify in the fridge. Thus, the fridge test is still a necessary, but not sufficient, test for the legitimacy of your extra virgin olive oil. It’s really a test for the degree of monounsaturation in the oils. It’s important (toss any oils that fail the test), but it’s not the full story.

The Taste Test

Good olive oil is often bitter, pungent, spicy, and slightly abrasive. It’s not always smooth and easy going. In fact, the “off-notes,” the intense flavors that make the uninitiated screw up their face actually indicate the presence of high levels of polyphenols, those antioxidant plant compounds which make olive oil so good for you. If the olive oil you taste burns the back of your throat and tastes funny to you, chances are you’ve been using and are used to adulterated (or at least non-virgin) oil.

To my knowledge, olive oil adulteration hasn’t progressed to the point where scammers are able to simulate the flavor of true EVOO. If they were to do it, I’d imagine they’d have to add polyphenols or olive extracts to the vegetable oils, and that can’t be cheap. And even if they did add olive extracts and synthetic polyphenols, it’d be better than having none at all.

Does It Matter?

Aside from being cheated out of your money for a disgustingly disappointing mix of soybean and canola oils, can any real health issues arise from consuming adulterated olive oils?

There are allergy concerns, of course, if the adulterant contains an allergen, like peanut oil. Owing to the similarity of its fatty acids to olive oil’s, hazelnut oil is another popular adulterant as well as a fairly common allergen, and one study even showed that people with hazelnut allergies could identify olive oil spiked with hazelnut oil because they suffered symptoms after eating it.

Another health issue that can arise from using adulterated olive oil is the one caused by excessive intake of omega-6 fats from the soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, or any other cheap high-PUFA oil being added: generation of inflammatory eicosanoids, systemic inflammation, and oxidized blood lipids. Luckily, the fridge test is sufficient to ferret out PUFA-rich “olive oil” and prevent this from harming you.

Depending on the source and age of the adulterants (year old soybean oil, five month canola, etc), the once robust polyphenol profile of the starter extra virgin olive oil will have been severely diluted. And since the healthful, anti-inflammatory effects of olive oil can mostly be attributed to the polyphenols, olive oil adulterated with inferior, polyphenol-less oils will be less stable, more rancid, and more prone to oxidation. Oxidized oils are not very good for us; here’s why.

I’d say it does matter, and not just because of taste (as if “taste” isn’t reason enough). Here are my roughly recommended guidelines for choosing a good, real EVOO:

My best results have come with domestics – wherever I am. My favorite olive oil here in California is a California olive oil. The best Italian olive oil I ever had was in Italy. Same for Spanish olive oil. In all those studies referenced above, domestics seemed to win out. The NZ and Australian studies found that local oils bested the imports, just as the California study found that the top oils were from California. I’d imagine Italians like Italian olive oil and Spaniards like Spanish olive oil and so on and so forth because they’re not getting the imported, adulterated dregs.

You might have to spend a little money. Sure, I’ve made some good, affordable finds at Trader Joe’s in my day (including a $15 a liter bottle of spicy, unfiltered to the point of clogging the spout, lime green EVOO from Italy that appeared on the shelves for a month or two last year only to disappear before I could grab another bottle), but generally, I’ve gotten what I’ve paid for.

Do some tastings. Look for specialty shops or farmer’s market stands that allow and even encourage tastings of their olive oils. Take at least an ounce (the quarter teaspoon some places try to offer is way too meager to get an accurate reading), slurp it up, and swirl it around in your mouth like you’re trying to make a saliva-EVOO emulsification. Be obnoxious about it, even. But as you swallow the oil, relax and be ready to note the peppery polyphenol kick at the end, usually experienced at the back of your throat. Good EVOO should linger pleasantly in the mouth, even after it’s been swallowed.

Do the fridge test. Even though it won’t prove that your oil is pure, you’ll at least know that your EVOO wasn’t cut with PUFA-rich oils.

Avoid clear bottles. Although I’ve bought some fantastic olive oil from dedicated small-time producers that was stored in random glass jars, I usually opt for EVOO that comes in dark bottles or stainless steel containers. First reason being, light exposure oxidizes olive oil and degrades the polyphenol content. Second reason, most quality olive oil producers care about their product enough to ship it in suitable vessels.

Buy a winner. I always keep up with the latest winners of the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. Whenever I’ve tried one from the list of winners, I haven’t been disappointed. Here are some other lauded competitions.

Talk to people who know good olive oil. Talk to olive farmers at the farmers’ market who grow and pick and press and sell the stuff, talk to the mustachioed olive oil aficionado who owns the olive oil shop that you’ve never stopped in to see, talk to your friends who know about this sort of thing and splurge on olive oil all the time.

Ultimately, absent a team of sensory experts, access to gas chromatography equipment, and the ability to astrally project your soul backward through time to the time and place of the oil’s production, there’s no one way to tell, no grand, all knowing test. The closer you are to the proximate producer of the oil (buy “close to the mill”), the fewer times it changes hands before reaching yours, the “feeling” you get from sniffing the herbaceous fragrance, tasting the piquant fruitiness, the enjoyment you derive from it – this is how you determine the worth of your oil. It’s more art than science.

Thanks for reading, folks. Be sure to drop a link or reference to your personal favorite (or favorites) extra virgin olive oil, preferably one that’s widely available or available online, as well as your tips for finding a good brand.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. So what is someone to do when you live in a small town in Nebraska? In my town we have a Wal-Mart, and two other grocery stores and I’m pretty sure none of them carry “local” olive oil. Is there maybe a choice that’s less evil than say the Wal-Mart brand, which I have by the way and says, Ingredients: Extra Virgin Olive Oil and that it’s a product of Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia… but distributed by Wal-Mart.

    Amy wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • Amazon.com ;)

      Mark wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • Walmart’s Great Value brand of both ‘100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ and the more refined ‘Pure Olive Oil’ easily solidify in the refrigerator. And they ranked surprisingly higher than many ‘quality’ name brands, in that California study. Since it’s not important to my self-perception to be hatin’ on Walmart, it’s a good, economical ‘everyday oil’, for me to use. Depending on your priorities, you might want to save more of a limited budget for organic veggies and grass-fed meats, and the occasional purchase of a very high-end EVOO, to be enjoyed as one would an expensive wine.

      Limbo Lizard wrote on August 14th, 2012
  2. I thought good EVOO was supposed to have a slight burn in the back of the throat? Even one part of the article talks about a spicy taste to it.

    I use Spectrum and it solidifies and leaves a slight kick at the end.

    Mark wrote on August 14th, 2012
  3. There’s a little winery in Arkansas called Raimondo’s, and they import olive oil from all over the world, depending on where it’s in season. They have a single varietal Picual olive oil right now that is amazing–peppery, grassy, and green. I’m pretty sure they have a website you can order from.

    Rebecca wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • Looked up the website, and they even have information on the polyphenol content. Here’s the description, with a link at the end. I’ve been to the winery, but I have no other connection with them (besides being a proud Arkansan!).

      Organic Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      Origin: Australia –By Cobram Estate, Boundary Bend Ltd

      Crush Date: Early Harvest 2011 – April-May 2011  

      Flavor Intensity: Medium Intensity

      Flavor: Green leaf aroma, strong hints of almond and fig and finishes with notes of avocado and unripe tomato 

      Suggested Uses – Picual Olive Oil will maintain flavor when cooked and is ideal for baking, sauce making or sautéing. It is also complex enough to be an exquisite dipping oil.

      Awards: Best of Show, Best of Class, Gold Medal-LA International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition –Medium, Gold Medal-Medium

      Chemistry: Crush Date: April-May 2011 – As measured at the time of crush.

      Polyphenols: 105       — FFA: 0.1
      Oleic Acid: 73.7         — Peroxide: 2.0
      DAGs: 97.6              — PPP: 
      Fruitiness: 6.8, Bitterness: 3.0, Pungency: 3.5

      Here’s the link: http://www.raimondowinery.com/cart/home/&cam=product_details&prod_id=42

      Rebecca wrote on August 14th, 2012
  4. I love Frantoia olive oil. Whenever I serve it, people go crazy over it and ask what kind it is (including Europeans who know their stuff).

    It comes in a clear bottle, which surprises me. But through the glass you can see its beautiful color and incredible viscosity. It’s way better than many kinds I’ve had from tins.

    I use Frantoya for pretty much everything. It’s especially good for dipping raw veggies in (you can pour some oil in a little bowl and sprinkle Herbs de Provence on top, for a festive look on a tray).

    Sometimes I’ll chop up a bunch of radishes and toss them in a little Frantoia. It’s amazing how it mellows out the pepperiness of the radishes.

    I love O & Co. olive oils too. There are boutiques throughout the world, so google to see if there’s one near you. Try the flavored olive oils – they’re yummy, you can sample them in the stores to decide which one(s) to buy. They come in little tins that fit well in the cabinet and make great gifts.

    :-)

    Susan Alexander wrote on August 14th, 2012
  5. What about for those of us who can only stand the flavor of “light tasting” olive oil? Am I better off skipping it altogether? I’ve tried different kinds of what I thought was good olive oil over the years and to me, it all tastes awful!

    Interesting article either way.

    Susan wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • No, I wouldn’t skip it. The “light taste” oil has more of the greenish chlorophyll and other compounds refined out, but the basic oil remains, and is one of the “good oils”. The more refined oil may even be less susceptible to oxidation (so I read), since the chlorophyll is gone. I use both EVOO and the “light”, depending on whether the taste goes well with what I’m using it for.

      Limbo Lizard wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • You might be better off skipping it. Light olive oil is not EVOO. It usually means it is a refined oil. It is made from chemically extracting whatever is left from the olive paste/waste after the EVOO is extracted. Sometimes the olives are processed several times.

      Light oils are also often mixed with seed oils.

      Tania wrote on August 14th, 2012
  6. Safeway Select brand Extra Virgin olive oil doesn’t pass the fridge test

    jcase wrote on August 14th, 2012
  7. Supposedly the business of debasing/adulterating European olive oil is more profitable than the cocaine trade in Europe – and with none of the risks! The New Yorker had a wonderful article about the scandal olive entitled Slippery Business that was later expanded into a book. I always buy Californian.

    Foxylibrarian wrote on August 14th, 2012
  8. The taste test is hardly conclusive. Different oils have different flavor profiles. They are not always made from the same type of olives so comparisons are hard. Some are very spicy, bitter, and green while others are more golden, mellow, and buttery. All of them have a lot of flavor which cannot be said of the mass-produced neutral oils like soybean, cottonseed, or canola (or olive oil produced with heat and solvents, for that matter).

    Whole Foods usually carries a variety of EVOO in bulk foods and you can taste them before you buy. I’ve been pretty pleased with the bulk oil I’ve purchased there and the price is pretty good.

    Sharon wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • I’ve been amazed at the different tasting oils we’ve produced using just the one variety of backyard olives.

      If we pick early in the season, when the olives are quite green, the oil is much more grassy and has a really lovely, slightly bitter taste. It was only after a few years that we learnt we should pick our olives when they get a blush of pink colour. Then we get a lot more oil and still a lovely taste.

      A lot of commercial producers leave their olives until they are a very dark colour. The flavour is more bland, and sometimes even rancid but the benefit for the producer is a much higher yield.

      Also, we live in a very dry climate. Our oil is more flavoursome in dry years. The last few years we’ve had a wet summer and while we’ve had more olives, we’ve also had a more mild taste.

      And that’s all just within one single variety of olives. There are a lot of different varieties.

      And many producers blend different varieties. For example, they blend the variety we grow, Verdale, because of the exceptional taste. But it is unprofitable to just sell Verdale because it doesn’t produce much oil.

      There is a lot to consider. As mentioned earlier, I’d had some of our oil in the fridge for 6 hours and so far it is still solid.

      Tania wrote on August 14th, 2012
      • oops, still *liquid* is what I meant to say.

        Tania wrote on August 14th, 2012
  9. such great info as i’ve often wondered what kind of quality (or lack thereof) i am getting in the olive oil that i buy.

    Marissa wrote on August 14th, 2012
  10. There is a store that sells Olive Oil and Vinegar at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City, that I discovered last month. They have a shop in Park City also. I make my salad dressing with the oil and different balsamic vinegars daily. I only make enough dressing for that day. I had a BBQ last month and made some oil/vinegar dressing and some creamy “ranch”. The ranch wasn’t touched but I had to make more oil/vinegar. I grew up in Northern CA with Olives and I love their olive oil. You can buy it here in Utah. Lovely taste. Sharon, you can try finishing your eggs, meat or veggies with olive oil. Wonderful taste to the meal.

    Patty wrote on August 14th, 2012
  11. Highly recommend Katz & Company in California. They make their own olive oils and there’s lots of information on the site about the olives they use, how they make it, etc.

    All the oils I’ve tried from them have been wonderful, especially the Meyer Lemon when they have it. They also offer great artisan-made vinegars.

    Shipping is reasonable, you can order online or by phone. They also have a shop on Local Harvest.

    Kress wrote on August 14th, 2012
  12. Temecula Olive Oil Compnay makes great olive oil. They have stores in southern California and online ordering. http://www.temeculaoliveoil.com/

    David wrote on August 14th, 2012
  13. Ironmany2k wrote on August 14th, 2012
    • I noticed that, too. Sure, the bottle’s clear, but my pantry’s dark and I love the taste of this stuff. Can’t beat the price if you’re a Costco member, either!

      TokyoJay wrote on August 15th, 2012
  14. Olive oil goes back even further than Syria in 24 BC…Moses was writing about using it in ceremonies about 1400 years before that!

    Aaron wrote on August 14th, 2012
  15. I buy California Olive Ranch olive oil (which has won some serious awards in olive oil tastings). Wowza! Good, good stuff. Even better, Costco is selling it now in a two pack. :-D

    Rokzane wrote on August 14th, 2012
  16. I love Olive oil! I use it for every thing. Cooking,backing,sunscreen,babys skin, soap making. Even to keep the fleas off the chickens. The doctor even recominded it for a lice treatment. Olive oil is the only oil in the house

    Debi wrote on August 14th, 2012
  17. Be wary of the stores that sell from the silver tanks. That oil gets repacked 3-4 times before it gets to your bottle.

    Intheknow wrote on August 15th, 2012
  18. True. Local is definitely best. The oil I’ve had in Italy is unbelievable and the one in Spain to die for.

    Txomin wrote on August 15th, 2012
  19. GO BEYOND THE LABEL!!>>>>

    EVOO organic unfiltered raw…When ya bite it…it’s supposed to bite back!>>>
    Spicypepperysmooth!!…GROK

    Dave PAPA GROK Parsons wrote on August 15th, 2012
  20. The main thing is to make sure that it says “extracted by MECHANICAL means” on the bottle. This means that the olives were pressed and centrifuged to get the oil out, as opposed to using a chemical solvent to extract the oil.

    Scott UK wrote on August 15th, 2012
  21. Re the Romans likening their olive oil, and all the info on the amphora used. This meant they could not reuse the containers (and the old oil could leave a rancid taste anyway). Next to the Coliseum in Rome there is a large man made hill which has a core almost totally made of broken olive oil amphorae.

    Dougie Gray wrote on August 15th, 2012
  22. The last email I got from my pastured meat provider included an article that decried all the “fake” olive oil that is being sold in America – and then tried to sell some “small batch, stone ground, fresh” olive oil for something around $25 for 10 oz. I was pretty suspicious (first time I was ordering from this farm, too, and I’ve noticed them to be a bit fruity and nutty) and I passed on buying it. It did make more picky about the olive oil I bought at the supermarket last week, I got some that touted 100% Italian olives-certified, small run, etc. Haven’t broke it open yet to see what it’s like. But I’m glad to see that my pastured meat farmer wasn’t trying to pull my leg. Don’t know if I’ll spring for their olive oil though…hmmm. I wish, I wish, that I lived in a place with TJ’s. Sigh.

    SarahW wrote on August 15th, 2012
  23. I’m glad you posted this. In most cases the olive oil industry isn’t being honest with its customers.

    Luckily for me since I live in the Mediterranean area we us extra virgin home made olive oil and you can really tell a huge difference between the commercial products and the homemade ones.

    Mario wrote on August 15th, 2012
  24. Honestly, I would not know what to do with olive oil, or any other oil now. Since going primal and cooking with lard and butter, and making my own dressing for salads (using full fat greek yogurts, cream or plain old raw milk instead of oils) I have absolutely NO need for ANY oils anymore. It’s a good thing, because even if it isn’t oxidized before you eat it, it WILL eventually oxidize within your body and create age spots under the skin.
    Not to mention it makes your tissue weak.

    Say NO to oils!

    Arty wrote on August 15th, 2012
    • Hey Arty, can you provide some reference to this. I can see cutting out oils would be very easy. I mainly use bacon greese for cooking.

      Ironmany2k wrote on August 15th, 2012
  25. I don’t do any tests. I go by taste alone. I grew up with the stuff in Lebanon, and helped my dad gather olives and take them to the local press during the season. You can’t fake that green taste and burn.

    I once bought a bottle of italian Whole Foods 365 olive oil. It was gross and cost a bunch. Ended up throwing it away. I buy this Lebanese brand I know well from home at a nearby middle eastern store.

    Wafaa wrote on August 15th, 2012
    • Sometimes you can’t go by taste. We don’t filter our oil and we have to leave it for 6 weeks to settle before we can use it. Before settling it can be almost bitter. Then, after 6 weeks it is often a bit sharp tasting and has a bit of a grassy, peppery taste, and then over the months the taste changes.

      The last two years we’ve had a lot of rain (wouldn’t be considered a lot in most parts of the world. If a local beer ad was correct, I’m in the driest state in the driest continent on earth) and our oil has been mild tasting and less green in colour.

      I’ve tasted friends oils that are quite yellow and very mild.

      Also picking late in the season gives a totally different taste to early picking.

      All the oils are home grown and cold pressed EVOO.

      So variety, climate, and picking time will all affect taste.

      Tania wrote on August 15th, 2012
      • You’re right. All these things would affect taste. Green olives picked early provide a sharper taste (and higher in polyphenols) than olives picked later in the season or when they’re ripe, which would result in a milder oil, and the yellower color you’ve likely seen in your friends’ oils.

        My preference is always for oil pressed from green olives picked early. We call that khadir, which funnily enough means “green”, haha.

        Wafaa wrote on August 16th, 2012
  26. As an Italian I can tell you: If you want to buy Italian olive oils, buy the ones with the “DOP” label (Denominazione di Origine Protetta = Protected Origin). Those are the only ones that guarantee maximum quality AND that the whole oil comes from a single area – else oils from all over the country might be mixed for an usual olive oil. DOP oils usually cost upwards of 15 dollars per litre here. In addition, since the mafia is present mainly in southern Italy, buying oils from northern and central Italy minimizes the risk of a bad quality product.

    Actually, I am not surprised that the mediterranean exports are not the highest quality – After all, Mediterranean countries produce 90% of the worlds olive oil and consume 77% of it, the best oils don’t leave the producing countries most of the time. But cutting olive oils with lower quality oils is just a crime.

    Tom wrote on August 15th, 2012
  27. My luck with olive oil’s been a bit treacherous.
    Last September I bought a liter bottle, used it a few times, then went to jail for something someone else did, with the bottle left in my campsite. And I’m quite sure it was pure EV as it was probably the most bitter oil I ever had (but good with spices, wild oysters, canned stuff, and stolen tomatoes… “hobo stew”). I was pissed!
    Around a month ago something similar happened – I’d gotten a small bottle free, from the food bank, used something like a spoonful, had it stashed, but turned myself in for a breach so alas it’s gone too.
    I found a store that sells bottles of pumpkin seed oil, shipped to Ontario from Austria in big barrels and bottled in the store. I sampled a spoonful and it was the best-tasting oil I’ve tried. I felt like I could drink it plain and recommend it.

    Animanarchy wrote on August 15th, 2012
    • Oh what’s that universe? A response to my woes? Why thank you very much.
      A cop who recognized me traveling down a highway the other day offered to bring me to a shelter I hadn’t stayed at before so I figured, might as well.
      Turns out there’s a big bottle of organic EVOO there, which I discovered in the cupboard today at lunch. It wasn’t even open.
      And just before that, I’d been walking around in a nearby forest and found a can of salmon and two cans of tuna sitting atop a boulder. There was lots of garbage nearby and looked like someone had been camping there but abandoned the site. I hadn’t had any real good fat sources besides cheese I suppose for a few days as the staff locked up all my canned food upon intake due to the shelter’s policy, saying it might attract bugs. Yes you read that correctly. Never mind that they have fruit and vegetables sitting out on the counter.
      But today for lunch I had salmon with a hefty splash of EVOO, a little cheese, some milk, and about as many veggies as I felt I could cram down without negative repercussions.

      Animanarchy wrote on August 16th, 2012
  28. I did the Fridge test on my Safeway Select EVOO and it passed!

    MoodyGirl wrote on August 15th, 2012
  29. There was a recent article about a high school class that published their research when they used DNA markers to determine the species composition of herbal tea. They found many instances where the actual ingredients did not match the label. I wonder if the there is residual DNA in olive oil that would allow similar screening.

    Jenny wrote on August 15th, 2012
  30. Are Organic oils safe from adulteration?

    CMSS wrote on August 16th, 2012
  31. Hi Mark! Thanks for the article. I enjoy
    marijuana infused olive oil that I make myself from farmers market purchases here in Venice Beach – I use a crock pot set to low, and let it “steep” for 3-4 hours. I then let it cool, and freeze it for later use. My question is if this steeping destroys or alters the chemical attributes of the olive oil. It tastes great, a little dark, but other than that no differences. Thanks!

    Steve wrote on August 16th, 2012
  32. Try Georgia Olive Oil. A new home-grown domestic.

    KKAT wrote on August 17th, 2012
  33. http://www.sott.net/articles/show/249798-Olive-Oil-Turns-Off-Heart-Disease-Genes
    Olive oil: all natural genetic modification medicine!

    Animanarchy wrote on August 17th, 2012
  34. 1. Whole Foods and Trader Joes need to build more stores in Southern Rhode Island. Preferrably near Westerly/Charlestown.

    2. Our corrupt society needs to make it 100% more difficult for us who like to eat real food to purchase our groceries. What the heck.

    We also mainly use coconut oil when cooking/baking, and olive oil for our salads. I also like a little olive oil on my sliced cukes and tomatoes for a “snack”
    Now to hunt for a better EVOO. ;)

    Mrs Awesome Pants

    Melody wrote on August 20th, 2012
  35. This is very interesting and good to know. Last year I started having health issues and was told my gallbladder was inflamed. My DR suggested I start taking a little EVOO first thing in the morning. It eliminated my problem but the big thing I noticed was that the olive oil I was using burned my throat. I’ve been so used to olive oil that didn’t burn, I thought something was wrong with that brand of oil (from California). I still use the brand that burns my throat. I’m glad I didn’t abandon it.

    Three West wrote on August 21st, 2012
  36. What alarming statistics!

    I would add that a true olive oil ought to cite the harvest date on the label. This is a commitment to quality and to the product’s freshness. Expiration dates are calculated from when the oil is bottled so the harvest date is a much more reliable indication of freshness.

    Disclaimer: I produce 900 bottles of IGP Toscano Extra Virgin Olive Oil every year…

    Laura wrote on August 30th, 2012
  37. Thought I’d add this here. For those of you who do buy EVOO from Trader Joe’s, this is a reply to an article on Food Renegade:

    Cynthia Calisch
    July 10, 2012 | 12:29 pm

    I wrote to Trader Joe’s about their olive oil and this was their reply which satisfies me:

    Hello Cynthia,

    Thank you for contacting us, and we do truly appreciate your interest in our Trader Joe’s olive oil products. We want to assure you that at Trader Joe’s we work very closely with our suppliers to assure that we are receiving only the highest quality products, and that our suppliers are meeting 100 percent of their claims (as stated on the product labeling).

    Every bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil at Trader Joe’s is from the first crush first press of the current crop. Our Olive Oil Buyer personally selects every olive oil blend on our shelves. She travels to Italy, Spain, Greece and Australia’s olive groves during the harvest season, meeting suppliers and taking part in the process of putting together each of our high quality olive oils. This is an integral part of how we buy our olive oil. By being involved at this level we can ensure the quality of our Olive Oils.

    In addition, we subject our olive oils to testing by an independent lab to ensure that their level of acidity equals that of Extra Virgin Olive Oil as Determined by the International Olive Oil Council Standards. Plus, We also do our own testing on a quarterly basis.

    At Trader Joe’s we require FDA regulated GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) program of our vendors. HACCP is a systematic approach to identifying, evaluating and controlling food safety hazards. In addition, our Quality Assurance Team audits our vendors on random and scheduled visits to monitor their facilities and practices on an ongoing basis.

    We believe that quality along with price is essential to the value of our products and we got to extreme measures to make sure we are bringing you the best of both.

    We hope this information adequately addresses your concerns, and we do appreciate you allowing us the opportunity to address this matter with you directly. We also thank you for shopping with us at Trader Joe’s.

    Sincerely,

    Hazel
    Trader Joe’s
    Customer Relations

    Here is a link to that article, which pretty much says the same thing MDA has written:
    http://www.foodrenegade.com/your-extravirgin-olive-oil-fake/

    Mary wrote on September 9th, 2012
  38. I’d hessitate to go by the fridge test alone, many referigerators are lousy at holding temp and have warmer zones internal depending on the compressor. It is exciting to see so many comments on this blog, most people just stick the stuff in a pan and crank up the heat to fry veggies & meats.
    Do you buy your expensive wine with out tasting, I don’t think so, you need to taste your Olive Oil & Balsamic before purchasing. That’s why I would recommend an expereinced olive oil tasting bar like http://www.navidioils.com

    I’d also recommend reading and following Tom Mueller’s website http://www.truthinoliveoil.com/

    Oil Man Ken wrote on January 10th, 2013
  39. Its a freaking shame that we have to go to these lengths to know whet we are eating!! No wonder our country is so overweight and unhealthy! When those of us that really care about our health and are willing to pay extra money for quality are getting screwed that’s a disgrace!! So now even the honest companies that do make quality olive oil are going to suffer because no one is going to trust/ buy their product! What a shame! What are freaking disgrace!

    katrina wrote on February 12th, 2013
    • You could not be more right, but this is no different than any other “food” Look at chicken, beef or fish. Find a small business you can trust.

      Tony Kasandrinos wrote on May 18th, 2013
  40. I guess I am a little late to the party – but I can confirm all the info Mark has posted about the UC Davis study (which they have updated with more current info) and Australian study. I have also found something interesting. Veronica Foods is the major supplier to most of the specialty olive oil shops in the nation. Take a look at the Truth In Olive Oil website truthinoliveoil.com and they list all the shops that VF (Veronica Foods) supplies. VF is a big proponent of proper chemical testing and the owner said to me that they only trust the lab in Australia to verify the purity of the oil that they sell to the retail shops. Unfortunately, the specialty shops in my area supplied by VF are charging approx. $60 per liter which is just too expensive for every day use. (I cook with exclusively EVOO). But at least all the shops that VF supplies are instructed in how to interpret the chemical test results and they are encouraged to post the info online or in store. So I have been on a quest to find high quality EVOO at better prices, but it’s been a real struggle. If anyone has a suggestion, please let me know. Thanks! http://needsmustgoodfood.blogspot.com

    Tony wrote on March 8th, 2013

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