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Pure Olive Oil and Virgin Olive Oil Are Not the Same - Archive, 1951

Discussion in 'TUG Lounge' started by MULTIZ321, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. MULTIZ321

    MULTIZ321 TUG Member

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    Pure Olive Oil and Virgin Olive Oil Are Not the Same - Archive, 1951
    From the Guardian Archive/ Food and Drink/ Life and Style/ The Guardian/ theguardian.com

    "Rome, 1 January

    When is olive oil pure and when is it virgin? According to Spanish, Algerian, French, Greek, Moroccan, Portuguese and Turkish experts, who have just met at the thirteenth International Olive Growers’ Congress in Madrid, olive oil is virgin when it is the produce of one pressed olive crop and pure when it is a mixture of various olives and other lower-grade oils, refined and confectioned into a pale gold odourless liquid. Italy alone, at this congress, wanted no distinction made between virgin and exporters do not, on the whole, make the pure olive oil, because Italy’s big distinction...."
    [​IMG]
    Olive harvesting in the West Bank, 2010. Photograph: David Levene/Guardian


    Richard
     
  2. WalnutBaron

    WalnutBaron TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    As an olive grower myself, I can attest that Italy, Spain, and especially Greece are notorious for "cheating" by cutting extra virgin olive oil with other vegetable oils and labeling it as EVOO before exporting it to the USA. This practice continues to be widespread, but within the past 4 years or so, University of California Davis and a university in Australia have collaborated to develop a testing procedure to determine the actual content of oils labeled as Extra Virgin. At the time the testing protocol was established in 2014, fully 80% of imported oils were determined to be adulterated with other oils.

    The California Olive Oil Council petitioned the FDA to enforce labeling standards, but the FDA's response basically was, "Look, it is clearly a violation, but adulterated oil is not going to kill anyone. Yes, consumers of adulterated oil will not receive the health benefits they'd get from true EVOO, but we have bigger fish to fry with drug and food safety issues and don't have the time or resources to enforce this. It is going to be up to the California industry to lead the way."

    As a result, the California growers petitioned USDA for what is called a Federal Marketing Order--approved in 2015--that now requires all California processors to guarantee that their EVOO is, in fact, Extra Virgin, and to back it up with tests that prove it. (By the way, when UC Davis began testing--and in complete contrast to the Europeans--fully 92% of California oil tested as Extra Virgin.) Since the marketing order has been in place, there have been zero labeling violations from California growers and processors.

    It should also be pointed out that representatives of the Italian, Spanish, and Greek processors testified in full-throated opposition at the federal USDA hearing on the motion to approve California's federal marketing order. It's very fortunate for U.S. consumers that USDA approved the creation of the marketing order. But beware: the Europeans continue to export adulterated oil to America in hopes that ignorant restaurants and consumers will continue to buy those oils because of the cachet of "pure Italian olive oil".

    A great book on this subject is Extra Virginity, written a few years ago by a Wall Street Journal reporter. It pulls no punches in its indictment of the cheaters in Europe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
    mpumilia and theo like this.
  3. Elan

    Elan TUG Member

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    Good info. So, is there a price premium (for consumers -- off the shelf) for true EVOO from CA relative to imported "adulterated" OO?
     
  4. WalnutBaron

    WalnutBaron TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Typically, yes. The Europeans are essentially dumping their adulterated oil in the U.S. market in order to try to drive California growers out of business. For a while, it was working as planted acres were in decline because grower returns were poor. But prices to growers have been climbing as demand for domestically produced oil grows--and now growers are planting more acres to try to meet the demand.

    It's hard to quantify what the price premium is, but I would say in general it's about 10% higher than the adulterated oils.
     
  5. Elan

    Elan TUG Member

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    OK, thanks for the info. ~10% is negligible to support ethical production. Is CA EVOO labeled with a certification of some sort so that it's easy to know it's true EVOO, or is it safe to assume that if it's CA produced that it's true EVOO? Just want to make sure I'm buying the right stuff going forward.
     
  6. WalnutBaron

    WalnutBaron TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Most of the supermarket brands from California will be certified and should have this seal on label. Some smaller mom and pop operations may not have the seal, though that does not necessarily mean they are not EVOO. One brand which is in broad distribution in the U.S.--and which is also the largest grower in California--is California Olive Ranch. All of COR's oils are certified.
     
  7. Elan

    Elan TUG Member

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    Good to know. Thanks!
     
  8. fillde

    fillde TUG Member

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    Great info Baron. California Olive Ranch has become my favorite OO. Great taste and different varieties. No small print on label either. I know when it was harvested and best to use-by dates.
     
  9. Eric B

    Eric B TUG Member

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    Just picked up some California Olive Ranch unfiltered Novello EVOO the other day at Costco and agree that it’s quite good. I lived in Italy for four years and used to get my olive oil from small producers. It makes a difference.
     
  10. WalnutBaron

    WalnutBaron TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    One way I am able to tell whether EVOO really is Extra Virgin: Extra Virgin olive oil should not be yellow, but green. It should not have an oily taste, but should actually taste "peppery" or have a bit of a bite to it. I still see most restaurants serving the yellow stuff. I also see the Star brand in supermarkets that is invariably yellow.
     
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