A Few Words About Labeling
The olive oil industry as suffered for many years from those who not only label their “oil” Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) when it’s not, but also taking advantage of the loose FDA labeling regulations.
To the industry’s credit, in recent years government and industry association regulations have tightened these requirements. The US Department of Agriculture now requires extra virgin olive oil to have a free fatty acid content, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and the California Department of Food and Agriculture requires EVOO to have a free acidity, expressed as free oleic acid, of not more than 0.5 grams per 100 grams.
As you can see, free acidity is a key analysis value used to evaluate the “quality” of extra virgin olive oil. While this acidity value is rarely printed on labels, when you are considering an EVOO supplier for your health and enjoyment, simply ask the supplier for their analysis value. If they are reputable, they will gladly share it with you. For example, below you can see our analysis of our award-winning 2019 IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil showing a Free Fatty Acid content of 0.13 grams per 100 grams (an exceptional value):
Another deceptive labeling practice has to do with information on the origin of the olives used to produce the EVOO. As hopefully stated in an earlier blog, it is so critical to press olives within 24 hours of harvest to produce the finest EVOO. When you read the label of your EVOO of choice and see that the oil was produced from olives from many different countries you can pretty much assume your EVOO is of lower quality.
As you can see in the photo of a very popular EVOO at Trader Joe’s, this EVOO is produced from olives grown in Italy, Spain, Argentina, and Greece! This is in contrast to our IL DIVINO Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is produced in an exclusive area of Tuscany, Italy known as the Valtiberina.
So once again, the message here is, check the label of the EVOO you are purchasing. Information on the origin of the olives in your EVOO should be shown on the label. If not, move on to the next!!! As our label states, “100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil produced from olives only grown and produced in the Tuscany Region of Italy”.
One final labeling issue I feel is deceptive is the name of the Company not truly reflecting the olive oil source. One example of this is California Olive Ranch. While this is a very popular olive oil company, reading the name of the company you would assume their olives and olive oil comes from California. While randomly investigating the cost of their EVOO on Amazon I came upon the following:
While I have no information on their other olive oils, you can see why consumers were very surprised to see a company named “California Olive Ranch” selling EVOO made from olives from Argentina, Chile, Portugal, and California!!!
The answer above on Amazon goes on to state the olives from these countries (thousands of miles from each other) are then refined and bottled in California. Can you imagine how many days, weeks, or months it took those olives to get from these countries to California???
In summary – please do your homework when selecting your family’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We use it because it greatly enhances the flavor of many of our foods and is wonderful for our health. So take the time to find a trusted supplier.
Thank you for taking the time to read.