Yes, Olive Oil Fraud Exists! Here’s How To Spot A Fake Product
With growing health awareness, people are now turning towards health-conscious practices. As such, along with obvious lifestyle modifications, switching to healthy cooking oil is one most crucial changes today.
Yes, from sunflowers and groundnut to soybean oil, now the attention shifts toward a healthier option: extra virgin olive oil.
Olive oil, simply, is the extracted juice from olives. It does not go through any chemical or heat process.
The juice extracted is deemed to be extra virgin olive oil when it passes through the lab analysis and sensory tests set by the Madrid-based International Olive Council.
Uncovering Fake Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil is a storehouse of antioxidants and contains nutrients that fight against inflammation.
Extra virgin olive oil lowers blood pressure, protects “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation, and thus improves the function of the blood vessel.
But with ample room for deception and people having little knowledge about the purity test of the extra virgin olive oil, people are easily cheated and tend to pay money for fake, unhealthy oils.
Almost 2,000 tons of fake olive oil was confiscated recently, and major companies in the industry have been accused of fraudulent manufacturing practices.
Cheap soybean oil is mixed with olive oil to reduce costs. Additionally, old stocked olive oil is often combined with fresh bottles. So, in many ways, the market shelves are stocked up with fake or stale olive oil.
This fake olive oil will do more harm than good to your health. Thus, it’s imperative to find the real extra virgin olive oil.
What Should You Do? How to Find Fake Olive Oil?
Olive oil fraud has become quite rampant. When you pay a premium price for any product, you should make sure you pay a premium for only premium products.
Let’s take a look at the ways how you can spot the fake olive oil and go for the purest, freshest, and healthiest olive oil.
1. Read The Label
It’s not always mandatory that olive oil with an “extra virgin” label on it is the purest, but a product without it can be of very low and cheap quality. As a rule, pick those bottles which mention “extra virgin” on its label.
2. Pay Attention To Details
The more the details, the better the oil quality is. A good oil has a pressed or harvest date mentioned. If the label states the estate or mill name, it’s very likely to be a genuine product.
3. Check For FFA
A high-quality product will indeed list the amount of FFA (free fatty acids) it contains. An FFA score of 0.2 percent or lower indicates an excellent oil.
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4. The ”Best By” Date Is A Myth
The best before date is completely immaterial to the quality of the extra virgin olive oil. It lacks any legal standards and could have been bottled way before the date mentioned.
5. Look For A Third-Party Certification Seal
Look for the certification seal-like “COOC certified extra virgin olive oil”. The California Olive Oil Council is the seal used to determine high-quality oils made in California.
In the case of European or Italian origin extra virgin olive oil, keep a sharp eye out for a PDO certified bottle.
6. Expect To Pay More
Real high-quality olive oil is expensive, so be ready to pay more. Since natural extra virgin olive oil is considered as a luxury good, you can bet that a low price is indicative of adulteration.
Bear in mind that while a low price is a red flag, you must not get carried away by a bottle’s fancy packaging or the high price tag. Fake olive oils can be expensive, too. So, be alert and choose your product wisely.
7. Trust Your Sense Of Smell And Taste
The look, smell, and taste of olive oil is a good indicator of its quality. So, a greener, brighter, and peppy oil is good olive oil. Fake or old olive oil would be too greasy and won’t give off a pleasant aroma.
The more astringent the oil, the higher the content of oleocanthal, which is a sign of top quality EVOO. You must feel a burning sensation in the back of your throat when you sip the oil.
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8. Know Your Retailer
Always buy olive oil from a reputable seller. Natural food stores and cooperative groceries are good choices, and you can buy directly from farms as well.
9. Go By Location
Certain countries are known for their impeccable olive production. When you see a bottle from Australia or Chile, you should go for it because they have high standards and the best olive produce.
Do not assume that a bottle from Italy, Greece, or Spain is always the best: these are the top olive oil producers, and counterfeit EVOO makers will often slap these countries’ names to trick consumers.
10. Pick Dark Containers
This criterion might sound silly, but dark containers retain the taste and benefits of extra virgin olive oil, which otherwise may fade away by being exposed to light.
In addition to this, unless you use EVOO in large quantities on a regular basis, stick to buying small bottles. Olive oil tends to get rancid very quickly, so you want to use it while it’s fresh.
Tests To Spot Counterfeit EVOO
Apart from the above-stated tips, you can also perform some simple tests to ensure that the olive oil you are using right now is the real deal.
11. The Fridge Test
Get a clean glass jar and pour 2-4 tbsp of olive oil into it. Seal and refrigerate the jar for 24 hours. If the oil solidifies, it indicates that it is monounsaturated pure olive oil. A polyunsaturated oil will not harden and is not olive oil.
12. The Oil Lamp Test
Coat a wick in olive oil and place it in a glass container – the shallower the container, the better the results.
Light the wick – if it doesn’t stay lit, then your olive oil is most likely fake. Additionally, burning it should not produce any fumes if it’s real olive oil.
Since extra virgin olive oil is abundantly rich in various nutrients, it has risen in popularity across the world. However, this steep incline in its use has also resulted in rampant fraud and adulteration in the EVOO market.
In such a scenario, it’s essential to be careful before spending money on extra virgin olive oil. These tricks will ensure that you are paying a premium price only for a premium product.