Sunday, July 9, 2017

Is Your Olive Oil Real or Fake?

Olive Oil – hopefully you have a bottle in your pantry.  Why?  Because it is a heart healthy oil and an oil with many health benefits.  But to get those health benefits, it needs to be REAL Olive Oil.  So, you go to the store, or find some bargain Olive Oil on sale.  Good idea?  Bad idea?  If it is REAL Olive Oil, then you got a bargain.  But if it is FAKE or partially fake, you got cheated.  So how does one know if their Olive Oil is REAL or FAKE?  Is the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) you purchased, really EVOO?  Turns out many people and organizations have studied this.  Southern Living just listed top food brands to buy and recommended an olive oil to purchase.  Even a money magazine, Kiplinger, has recommended which Olive Oil to buy at Costco. 

Why is there “FAKE” Olive Oil?
PopSugar has a great article, You May Be Buying "Fake" Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.   One country interested in cracking down on “fake” olive oil is Italy.   They found 7,000 tons of EVOO that was labeled 100% Italian, was not really 100%.  Apparently, it had oil from other countries such as from Turkey, Syria, Tunisia.  And a lot of this EVOO that wasn’t 100% was on its way to America.  Even 60 Minutes has covered the “fake” or imitation olive oil. 
It may not be real, 100% EVOO because a cheaper oil has been added, it may be made from olives that were damaged or overripe or not processed properly.  Or it may be packaged in a clear glass bottle and exposure to light affects the freshness of the oil
What is so good about EVOO?  It is manually pressed, no chemicals added and really is olive oil in a pure form.  UC Davis has studied olive oil and found a very high percentage of EVOO was not labeled correctly and did not meet the high standards of EVOO.  UC Davis actually has the UC Davis Olive Center that focuses on California olive growers and processors and they even sell EVOO. 

Why is “real” olive oil important to your health?
Popsugar has a great quote from the Director of the UC Davis Olive Center, Dan Flynn:  The health benefits from quality extra-virgin olive oil come from two things:  antioxidants and high monounsaturated fat.  Studies indicate that these elements are associated with benefits for reducing blood pressure, inflammation, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, some cancers, and obesity.  Are you convinced yet about EVOO?  To get the most health benefits, buy the real thing.  How much?  Many sources recommend from 1-2 tablespoons a day.   Olive Oil Times noted about 2 T. a day is needed to get the health benefits of olive oil. 

How do you know if the olive oil or EVOO you are buying is real or fake?
PopSugar, UC Davis and the North American Olive Oil Association have suggestions as to what to look for:

      1.  Look for a Seal of Certification:

UC Davis promotes California olive oil and recommends looking for the California Olive Oil Council seal:

The North American Olive Oil Association lists types and varieties of olive oil and has a long list of oil brands they certify with their Certified Quality Seal Program. 
2.       Avoid bottles or packages with dust on them, with broken seals, any evidence of leaking or bottles with oil that has an orange tint to it.  That would mean the bottle has been exposed to too much fluorescent light or too much heat.  33.       Avoid clear bottles – buy olive oil in opaque or dark bottles that prevent light damage. 
4.       Look for oil from one place, one country, not oil that has been blended.
5.       Cheap isn’t the best option.  
6.       Buy olive oil in small bottles so you can use it up while it is still at its peak of freshness.

How should you store olive oil?

Keep it olive oil in a cool, dark area like a cupboard or pantry.  Exposing Olive Oil to heat or light will shorten the shelf life.  And buy in smaller containers so you can use it up.  UC Davis recommends using it up in 6 weeks or so as the freshness will decrease over time. The North American Olive Oil Association recommends using up your bottle of olive oil within 8-10 weeks of opening it.

Where is a list of quality olive oils?
  •  Southern Living recently published its Food Awards from their test kitchen.  They recommend California Olive Ranch.  “Their Everyday California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a buttery-smooth blend, has unmatched versatility.”   We just bought some at Walmart so it is easy to find. 
  • Interesting that Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine highlighted olive oil and noted that Costco’s Kirkland brand of olive oil met national and international standards for EVOO.  So, if you are a Costco shopper, you can buy the Kirkland EVOO.  But it may come in a size too large for you to use up in just a few weeks.
  • Go to the UC Davis Olive Center for a list of certified California brands of EVVO.  Or buy some from UC Davis as they offer a number of EVOO products.   
  • The North American Olive Oil Association lists many certified brands on its website.  They certify many popular brands including Bertolli, Pompeian, Sprouts, Star and Whole foods. 

So, if you don’t have any olive oil in your pantry, stop by Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods or some other store this week to pick up some real EVOO.


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