Italian Olive Oil Scandal: UPDATE

Some time ago, we presented an exposé about corruption and fraud in the Italian Olive Oil industry. At that time, it seemed that only the legitimate Italian Olive Oil producers were eager to stem the flow of bogus oil to protect the prestige of their brand. Now, they’re getting some help from their government…

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - © germanorestaurant.comThe real deal: “Product of Italy”

Our original post chronicled the resurgence of widespread allegations of fraud in the Olive Oil industry. The paeans of frustration from Italy’s legitimate Olive Oil producers have been rising to a new crescendo every ten years or so for decades – pretty much since Olive Oil became a staple for foodies outside the Mediterranean culinary orbit late in the last century. And they have a right to complain.

Now, we hear that the Italian government has launched a massive investigation of the country’s Olive Oil industry in an attempt to clear the air and corner the cheaters.

Italiians love their Olive Oil like no other national cuisine culture and they are rightfully proud of its quality. They also like the quality prices it commands around the world, from Italian ex-pats, Foodies and professional cooks who appreciate its special qualities. However, there have been troubling stories going around for many years that some ‘Italian’ Olive Oil may in fact contain cheaper, inferior oils from North Africa, Spain and elsewhere. Not only that, but some impostor Oils may also contain artificial colourings and flavourings in their efforts to emulate the highest grades of Italian oil, Virgin and the coveted Extra Virgin grades.

What should interest us, in north America, most is that the bogus Oils are routinely exported to us with misleading – but not entirely illegal – labels.

So…

To recap our earlier recommendations: If you want to be sure you’re getting real Italian Olive Oil, look for the legend “Product of Italy” on the label.If the label simply says ‘Imported From Italy” or “Packaged In Italy”, you may be getting bogus Oil and paying premium prices for it.

As the report linked above also suggests… If the price is to good to be true, the Oil probably isn’t true, either!.

~ Maggie J.