Are Italy’s Virgins Deceiving Us?

December 7th, 2012

Foreign competitors are engaged in deceptive marketing tactics, including mislabeling their oil, olive oil producers told the U.S. International Trade Commission at a recent hearing.

Allison Aubrey, reporting on the hearings held Dec. 5 for NPR, described a myriad of issues surrounding the labeling and authenticity of imported extra virgin olive oil.  Gregg Kelley, CEO of California Olive Ranch, who testified at the hearing, told her:

First and foremost, consumers often times aren’t receiving what they think they’re purchasing when they buy a bottle of [imported] olive oil, he said.

Tom Mueller, author of Extra-Virginity: The Sublime And Scandalous World of Olive Oil, told the commission that American consumers who buy the false extra virgins are being duped.

Major recent surveys of olive oil quality suggest that two-thirds of olive oil currently sold as ‘extra virgin’ in America is mislabeled: They fail to meet the major legal definitions of the extra-virgin grade, Mueller said. In September, Consumer Reports found that many of the big names in imported olive oil, such as Bertolli and Filippo Berio, do not taste good enough to meet the criteria to be “extra-virgin.”

So what advice did the U.S. olive growers have for us?  Not surprisingly, they recommend we buy olive oil made in the U.S.A.

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