The Biggest Fraud In Olive Oil

The biggest fraud in olive oil history today is the story that led consumers to believe that all olive oil is fake. In 2010, the University of California Davis Olive Center, an organization created to promote the sale of California olive oil, published a report funded by California olive oil producers and designed to discredit their competition. In their report, they claimed that “69% of imported olive oil samples labeled as extra virgin olive oil failed to meet USDA standards for extra virgin olive oil.” In layman’s terms, the samples failed a taste test. That was the first red flag, because something as subjective as a taste test shouldn’t be used to determine if an olive oil has been adulterated. The only way to do that is through a battery of physical and chemical tests in accordance with highly technical standards. To call an extra virgin olive oil “fake” based on a potentially biased taste test is not only misleading, it’s unethical. In 2020, a federal court put the latest nail in the coffin by dismissing another case in which a class action attorney sought to rely on the UC Davis report. The court ruled that the report was flawed and proved nothing. So, the next time you see an article about olive oil fraud, take a closer look at where the claims come from.