Your Olive Oil Is Almost Certainly Fake
Walk into your kitchen and pick up your bottle of olive oil. You know, that health-promoting nectar of Mediterranean age-defying prowess, lubricant of pasta, the only thing that makes your kale salad palatable? Yeah, that stuff is almost certainly not what you think it is.
That's because unless you've plucked your own olives from your own backyard grove and crushed the fruit and pressed the oil yourself, that slippery substance was likely cut, adulterated, and deceptively labeled before it reached the bottle in your hands.
Food fraud—or the act of deceiving consumers about a food or ingredient for the sake of profit—affects as much as 10 percent of the global food supply. Of all the instances of food fraud in the United States, according to a scholarly database tracking this very thing, olive oil leads the way, making up 16 percent of cases (followed by milk, honey, saffron, and orange juice).
One of the reasons oil is so often faked is that it's bottled before you use it, and it travels far before it lands on grocery store shelves. "If it's something you can't look at and easily recognize, it's more likely to be defrauded," Olmsted explains. The United States imports more olive oil than any other country, and yet regulations on the labeling of said oil are voluntary.
Aside from imparting rotten flavors and ripping people off, this fraud deprives people of the health benefits that may have prompted them to buy the oil in the first place: Fresh extra-virgin olive oil is high in the omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce the risk of heart disease. It's also low in saturated fat and contains antioxidants. "Bad oil isn't just a deception, it's a crime against public health," one Italian olive oil trade association president told Olmsted.
So what's the best way to avoid getting punked? Olmsted offers up some handy advice - see http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/08/olive-oil-fake-larry-olmsted-food-fraud-usda