Fake Olive Oil.

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Cooking4Fun

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I was watching something like 20/20 and they did a story on how maybe 50% of olive oil imported is diluted with something. Anyone else hear anything like that? Is there a way to lab test the purity of olive oil?
 

taxlady

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I have been hearing about that for years. I remember watching a long news report about it is incredibly hard to lab test for purity. In one of the Italian cities, they have a special police group to try to combat the adulteration of Italian olive oil. They are chosen, in part, for their sense of smell. Someone with a very acute sense of smell and training, can tell if there are adulterants better than most lab tests. I believe there are expensive, complex tests that can be done in laboratories. The only test I know that can be done in a home kitchen is a test for soy oil or other oil with very low melting point. If your olive oil goes cloudy at 0°C (32°F), that is normal. It does not prove that is unadulterated, but it won't have much soy oil or other low freezing point oil. If the olive oil does not go cloudy after a day at 0°C, that's a pretty good indicator that it is adulterated.

The problem isn't just adulterants to the olive oil, it's that stuff sold as Italian is often actually from other countries, but bottled in Italy.

I buy mostly Spanish, Portuguese, or Greek olive oil. Since they don't have the cachet of Italian olive oil, I figure it isn't as likely to be counterfeited or adulterated. I have no evidence to that effect, but I think it's likely.
 

dragnlaw

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I've heard the same stories as taxy. I always cringed when I hear some blogger/chef/ or whatever... say "Always buy the Good Stuff"

I have looked in every grocery store I've come across and, not counting the first 25 years of my life, I have NEVER, in 50+ years, found that damn brand called "Good Stuff". If someone knows where I can get it please let me know. Not even Amazon carries that brand.
 

JohnDB

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Nashville tn
I have been hearing about that for years. I remember watching a long news report about it is incredibly hard to lab test for purity. In one of the Italian cities, they have a special police group to try to combat the adulteration of Italian olive oil. They are chosen, in part, for their sense of smell. Someone with a very acute sense of smell and training, can tell if there are adulterants better than most lab tests. I believe there are expensive, complex tests that can be done in laboratories. The only test I know that can be done in a home kitchen is a test for soy oil or other oil with very low melting point. If your olive oil goes cloudy at 0°C (32°F), that is normal. It does not prove that is unadulterated, but it won't have much soy oil or other low freezing point oil. If the olive oil does not go cloudy after a day at 0°C, that's a pretty good indicator that it is adulterated.

The problem isn't just adulterants to the olive oil, it's that stuff sold as Italian is often actually from other countries, but bottled in Italy.

I buy mostly Spanish, Portuguese, or Greek olive oil. Since they don't have the cachet of Italian olive oil, I figure it isn't as likely to be counterfeited or adulterated. I have no evidence to that effect, but I think it's likely.
Buying Spanish/Portuguese olive oil is just like Italian for good reasons...Spain usually does produce more barrels on a consistent basis for less money. Besides, Italy doesn't have the available workforce and Spain does to produce it. So Spanish Olive Oil is regularly labeled as italian..

Greece, Turkey, Syria, and even Israel produce olive oil. Just about anywhere the olive trees grow...and live forever.

The latest marketing term always gives me a giggle...extra virgin. In my world there is only virgin or not....meaning they either used heat or they didn't. But whatever....

The taste and smell is the thing...put two side by side and taste and smell. Going past three different ones for comparison is subject to pallete exhaustion and aroma exhaustion being an influential part.
 

Marlingardener

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I use quite a bit of olive oil, and usually buy Spanish. I think it's a personal prejudice since I was introduced to olive oil while spending a year in Spain. Not having a terribly delicate palate and probably being unable to distinguish between any of the other country's oil, the Spanish oil satisfies me, both for dipping and for cooking.
There is an old saying--a man plants an olive grove not for himself, but for his grandchildren. Two hundred year old trees still produce olives.
 

GotGarlic

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I've heard the same stories as taxy. I always cringed when I hear some blogger/chef/ or whatever... say "Always buy the Good Stuff"

I have looked in every grocery store I've come across and, not counting the first 25 years of my life, I have NEVER, in 50+ years, found that damn brand called "Good Stuff". If someone knows where I can get it please let me know. Not even Amazon carries that brand.
You won't find the good stuff in most grocery stores. I buy high quality olive oil in a store that specializes in olive oils and balsamic vinegars. They're relatively expensive, but because they taste so good, you can use less.
 

GotGarlic

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The latest marketing term always gives me a giggle...extra virgin. In my world there is only virgin or not....meaning they either used heat or they didn't. But whatever....
That term has been around for a very long time. It means the oil is from the first cold pressing of the olives. Then there's a second pressing - virgin olive oil - and other methods resulting in other types of oils.
The taste and smell is the thing...put two side by side and taste and smell. Going past three different ones for comparison is subject to pallete exhaustion and aroma exhaustion being an influential part.
There's are lots of stores around the country these days that specialize in olive oils and balsamic vinegars where you can taste them before you buy. I've learned that, like grapes, there are different types of olives that ripen at different times of the year, so they have seasons, and they all have different flavors. So in the spring, for example, it's not recommended to buy olive oils from the Mediterranean because they're out of season. Instead, get oils that are produced in South America or Australia.
 

GotGarlic

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I use quite a bit of olive oil, and usually buy Spanish. I think it's a personal prejudice since I was introduced to olive oil while spending a year in Spain. Not having a terribly delicate palate and probably being unable to distinguish between any of the other country's oil, the Spanish oil satisfies me, both for dipping and for cooking.
There is an old saying--a man plants an olive grove not for himself, but for his grandchildren. Two hundred year old trees still produce olives.
I bet you could taste the difference if you tasted them side by side. Some taste fresh and grassy, some are minerally, and some are bitter. The type of olive and the season when they were harvested determine how they taste.
 

jennyema

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The latest marketing term always gives me a giggle...extra virgin. In my world there is only virgin or not....meaning they either used heat or they didn't. But whatever....

Giggle if you want, but the designation of “extra virgin” is not recent nor is it a marketing term.

Virgin olive oil has four different grades. Extra Virgin is the highest grade and must meet strict standards, including maximum acidity.
 

summer57

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Vancouver
Lately, I've been getting a Tunisian oil - Terra Delyssa. It's excellent, great price, too, especially now that Costco carries it. Kirkland Tuscan oil's also very good.
Reminds me of the time when my husband and I were driving in the south of France. We took a wrong turn, and ended up in the lineup of one of the olive oil co-ops. Such a long line of trucks, trailer, carts full of olives from local farmers, waiting in line to get their olives pressed.
 

JohnDB

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Giggle if you want, but the designation of “extra virgin” is not recent nor is it a marketing term.

Virgin olive oil has four different grades. Extra Virgin is the highest grade and must meet strict standards, including maximum acidity.
I understand that...but I started cooking before that designation became common.

This was back in the day when Vincent Price was known as a wonderful gourmet. (Actually was a very good cook) He was also still making movies too. The Galloping Gourmet was still getting drunk on national television and Julia Child could actually see.
So where I understand that a set of standards was settled upon and upheld (and i do rely upon them)...I still giggle over the designation.

I like olive oil...a lot. I use it regularly in many ways. From a finishing oil to salad dressing and all points in between.
 

Cooking4Fun

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Buffalo
Is South America and Australian olive oil that good? What decides the quality besides the climate? Is soil control easy?
 

Badjak

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Joined
Dec 24, 2010
Messages
189
I've never seen anything but extra virgin olive oil in the shops here.
And I'm sure that's because nobody checks that what it says on the label is true!
Don't get me wrong, they are tasty enough, or maybe I've gotten used to the taste, but they are not extra virgin.

Years ago, I ended up somewhere where they had an olive oil tasting. Despite my reluctance (who in their right mind dips bread in oil and eats it, or worse, eats a teaspoon of it) it was delicious :)
Recently I got a small bottle of the real thing from a Spanish visitor and it is just great!
 

dcSaute

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Apr 24, 2011
Messages
953
there is so much bad / conflicting information floating around it's difficult to know where to start.

first, extra virgin olive oil is an expensive but wasted cost for high temp cooking/frying/sauting. the aromatics that make it extra virgin go away at high temperatures.

second, the "famous" UC Davis report from 2010:
https://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/media/files/report041211finalreduced.pdf
_only_ addresses extra virgin olive oil.

Comments/details here about stuff other than "extra virgin" grade are not related to / supported by / part of "the famous report."

The report details how different brands, labeled/sold as "extra virgin," fared on chemical tests and also on "sensory tests" by two different "expert panels."

Chemical tests are not subjective, two sensory panels varied in their opinions of the same sample.

Note 1: currently there are (at least) four different "standards" for chemical testing -
International Olive Council (IOC), a US / California standard, a German standard, an Australian standard.

Note 2: the various standards do not agree on what to test, nor how to test it, nor the "acceptable" results.

It should be noted that various groups with various axes to grind have - with apparent intent - misquoted and abused the data and the report in their quest to make their axe sharper than the other guy’s axe.

The report details that while "top selling brands" pass "most" of the chemical testing, they fail in the sensory tests. This indicates to me "they really don't know what they’re doing" - in a nice kind of way.

https://deeprootsathome.com/italian-olive-oil-scam-see-olive-oil-brands-that-failed-the-tests/
 

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