You might think that you're making the healthier choice by buying olive oil instead of sunflower, but, without knowing it, you could be throwing money down the drain. The fake olive oil industry is very profitable, so here's you can make sure you're not one of its victims.
A piece on Business Insider presents startling facts about the fake olive oil industry: not only is as profitable as the drug industry without the bad effects, and seems to go back to the days when the genuine olive oil was made, but it's also very present.
Recent figures indicate that about 70% of the olive oil imported from Europe into California is fake and, what's worse, there's little anyone can do to stop it from coming in because authorities are slow in reacting, given that fake olive oil isn't actually hurting anyone.
In light of these statistics, The Guardian offers a few easy steps to follow to make sure you at least minimize the chances of being tricked into buying fake oil.
The bottom line is that you can't be 100% sure but at least you'll know you've done all in your power to get the product you're paying good money for.
First things first.
To make sure that what you get is what you wanted to, it's best if you make your purchases at the same provider, preferably one that stores the oil in large steel containers, sealed with inert gas to prevent it making contact with oxygen.
These sellers usually bottle the oil as they sell so, before you actually pay for it, ask for a taste. If it's not extra virgin or is doctored to appear as if it is, you'll know on the spot.
If you must buy at a supermarket, make sure you choose a lightly colored bottled. The actual color of the oil doesn't matter all that much, since it can depend on a variety of factors – but that of the bottle makes all the difference.
“Favor bottles or containers that protect against light, and buy a quantity that you'll use up quickly,” The Guardian recommends.
Direct sunlight affects the oil, so make sure you don't buy bottles from the top shelves – look for traces of dust to estimate how long they've been there, and pick a clean one.
If possible, buy in containers that block light completely, but in small quantities, since you need to use it up quickly.
Aside from the expiration date on the label, look for something called “harvest date,” which should tell you almost as a certainty that the oil is not fake.
“Try to buy oils only from this year's harvest – look for bottles with a date of harvest. Failing that, look at the 'best by' date which should be two years after an oil was bottled,” The Guardian recommends.
“Ensure that your oil is labeled 'extra virgin,' since other categories – 'pure' or 'light' oil, 'olive oil' and 'olive pomace oil' – have undergone chemical refinement,” says the same media outlet.
Worst case scenario, if you buy a fake, you should probably know that it won't kill you, though it will definitely make you feel cheated at having paid extra for something that was worth much less money.
Fake olive oil is usually a blend of extra virgin olive oil and sunflower oil, or some kind of mixture with soybean oil with chlorophyll and beta-carotene.
More details here.