Failed to meet internationally accepted standards If you spend extra money on so-called "extra virgin" olive oil, there’s a good chance you didn’t get what you paid for. Our firm is investigating a recent UC Davis study which found that more than two-thirds of common brands of extra virgin olive oil failed to meet internationally accepted standards. Popular varieties marketed by Bertolli, Pompeian, Carapelli, Mezzetta, and Mazola are just some of the brands that failed the UC Davis tests.
As a result of the mislabeling found in this study, thousands of U.S. consumers may have paid a premium price for a substandard olive oil. Even worse, these phony extra virgin olive oils could pose a serious health risk to people with allergies, as the study found that many were blended with cheaper canola, seed or nut oils.
We are currently investigating a possible class action lawsuit against the companies responsible for this deception. If you believe you purchased olive oil that was incorrectly labeled as “extra virgin” or would like to learn more about our investigation, please contact us today for a free consultation.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin is the highest grade of olive oil, according to standards set by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Olive Council, an international, intergovernmental organization that deals with issues involving olives and olive oil. The council, established by the United Nations, includes countries that produce 98 percent of the world’s table olives and olive oil.
The United States is not a member of the council; however olive oil produced in the U.S. must meet recently adopted USDA olive oil standards, which closely correspond to the international standards and will go into effect on Oct. 25, 2010. The standards include specifications for the grades of extra virgin, virgin, refined olive oil and olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil can be adulterated by mixing extra virgin with cheaper refined oils such as hazelnut oil or with a cheaper refined olive oil, making the adulteration more difficult to chemically detect.
For some time now, many have suspected that much of the extra virgin olive oil marketed in the U.S. was anything but that. The UC Davis study, the first of its kind by an American academic institution, provides the first empirical proof of this deception.
UC Davis Extra Virgin Olive Oil Study
For their landmark study, researches at UC Davis purchased 14 imported brands and five California-produced brands of olive oil that were being sold as extra virgin at retail stores in California. Three bottles of each imported brand and two bottles of each California brand were sent to the Australian Oils Research Laboratory in New South Wales, where the oils were put through sensory and chemical tests specified by the international Olive Council and also were analyzed using methods adopted in Germany and Australia. Chemical analyses also were conducted at the UC Davis Olive Oil Chemistry Laboratory, in most cases using bottles with the same lot numbers as those tested in Australia.
The research team found that 69 percent of the imported oils sampled and 10 percent of the California-produced oils sampled failed to meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin olive oil.
Of the following brands, every sample failed to meet the extra virgin olive oil standards:
- Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Mazola Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Other samples of extra virgin olive oil brands such as Filippo Berio, Colavita, Newman’s Own Organics, Safeway Select, and 365 Everyday Value, were also found to not meet the international extra virgin olive standards.
According to the study, the defective samples failed the extra virgin standards for one or more of these reasons:
- oxidation due to elevated temperature, light and or aging;
- adulteration with cheaper refined olive oil; and
- poor-quality oils made from damaged and overripe olives, processing flaws or improper oil storage.
The study also revealed that the analytical chemistry methods established by the International Olive Council and the USDA often do not detect defective oils that fail extra virgin sensory standards. On the other hand, the chemistry methods used in Australia and Germany were more effective in confirming negative sensory tests, the study found.
Countless U.S. consumers may have paid far too much for an inferior olive oil that was mislabeled extra virgin. If you were among them, you may be entitled to compensation.