Please check before you purchase olive oils.
As much as two thirds of the high quality olive oil we buy and maybe even more is NOT what it says on the bottle.
We're being duped into paying premium prices for a poor quality product that may contain little or no olive oil at all.
And even if it does, it likely won't be of the quality you think you're paying for.
A book published late last year lifted the lid on the great olive oil scam but it's been known for years that, knowingly or unknowingly, the people who sell the stuff to us may be offering a phony product.
For example, a report produced in 2010 by UC-Davis found that more than two thirds of common brands of extra virgin olive oil being sold in USA were nothing of the sort.
Sellers of inaccurately labeled oil included one of the biggest names in grocery retailing in the US, though there's no suggestion the store chain knew of the deception.
In fact, of the dozens of stores whose sales were analyzed, only six were selling the genuine product.
There are actually hundreds of varieties of olives but only a few main classifications for olive oil, including:
Extra virgin, which is literally the "juice" of freshly picked olives. It is produced by pressing or a low heat process but, importantly, does not use chemicals of the type employed in the refining of other oils.
Virgin olive oil, produced the same way but comes from riper olives or a second pressing, though it is still wholesome.
Blends -- sometimes referred to as "light" or "pure." That they may be, but they include "refined" olive oil, which usually means some or all of it has been chemically processed.
Poor quality oil, known as "lampante," using the Italian word for lamp oil -- considered unfit for human consumption -- which may be derived from old, rancid olives, often ones that have been lying on the ground for some time, and likely has been chemically processedIn fact, lampante often turns up in olive oil mixtures. But, if the oil is phony, it's just as likely to contain mainly a cheap seed oil like sunflower oil..
Just last year, two Spanish businessmen were jailed for selling supposed extra virgin olive oil that was, in fact, 75% sunflower oil.