Demand for extra virgin olive oil is up — but we apparently don’t have strict standards that prevent companies from adulterating “extra virgin” olive oil with cheaper stuff such canola, safflower or peanut oils, says the LA Times. New standards from the US Department of Agriculture aim to change that this fall, however.
But a lack of strict standards means the U.S. is awash in low-quality, adulterated and even dangerous oils that have made some consumers ill, according to experts. The new rules are voluntary — not mandatory — so the prospect of more slick shenanigans continues.
Connecticut investigators tested dozens of bottles of olive oil from store shelves a few years ago after local producers and consumers complained that there was something fishy — or perhaps nutty — going on. They were right.
“People were getting sick and thinking, ‘It must be the poultry that I fried up in the olive oil last night,’ or that it was a type of bread that had been exposed to nuts in the bakery,” said Jerry Farrell Jr., commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Early this year, his team returned to the market aisles after hearing rumbles of more sly shortcuts.
“It took a while for people to identify that the oil itself is the thing that was making them sick,” Farrell said.
A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, told the Times that agency “does not regularly test olive oils for adulteration, and that it relies on tips about problems from the public, trade groups and others.”
So… we suppose you should tell the FDA if you encounter any fishy olive oil?