Buyers Beware: ‘Dishonest Olive Oil distributors are among us’

The word on the streets is that Canadians, especially British Columbians, are becoming more educated about the products they purchase.  Consumers are reading the ‘fine print’.  So they say…but is this enough?  It was recently published that an American trading olive oil company was taken to court in California by the Californian Olive Oil Association [COOA] for selling inferior quality olive oil and false labeling.  In this light, how fine is this print, and how well equipped are our fellow Canadians when purchasing quality foods?

The company was advertising high quality organic Californian extra virgin olive oil.  However, the oil was anything but organic.  Rather they were mixing imported inferior oils and blending them with canola and extra virgin olive oil!  Very cunning, however how can one avoid such pitfalls?  Selling at low prices is a dead give away.  Not only should one question the quality of what they are buying, but it also makes authentic goods [extra virgin olive oil, for example] look expensive.  To think this is an exception to the ‘quality rule’ – do not be fooled.  Unscrupulous traders of poor quality olive oil are among us.  For this reason, consumers and chefs alike must be careful when purchasing olive oil – more importantly, quality extra virgin olive oil.

The question is then, how does one know what good olive oil is?  Should one rely on the brand name alone?  Sometimes.  It is like buying a Mercedes; do you really know where it is being made anymore?!  What about attractive advertising – is that enough?  Maybe not.  Unfortunately millions of dollars have been made with the word ‘organic’.  But who are these people? Those who take advantage of us consumers - using false advertising – buying our trust - trying to promote inferior products?  Dishonest producers and distributors are hurting the industry and consequently have negatively impacted the buyers - first in their pocketbook and most importantly, in their health.

On a more positive note, the International Olive Oil Council [IOOC] has introduced a new grading of the extra virgin olive oil [December 2003].  Previously, the product had to have less than 1.0% acidity.  Now standards have risen.  Olive oil to be called ‘extra virgin’ must have less than .08% acidity.  In a nutshell, it has become more difficult to be called ‘extra virgin’ : ‘this is a good thing!’

As for Golden Olive Eleni certified organic extra virgin olive oil - we haven’t changed a single thing. The quality of our olive oil has been the same since day one.  As a matter of fact, we have done what many claim to do: improve our product.  This year’s harvest [November 2004] our oil’s acidity is at 0.03% of one percent.  This is due to the fact that our extraction of olive oil occurred at 22º Celsius [last year our harvest was extracted at 25º] and in turn, reduced the oil’s overall acidity.  This is what is referred to as ‘cold press’.  Often generic olive oil is pressed at higher temperatures, which burns the oil and destroys the phyto nutrients and antioxidants naturally found in the fruit.  It comes as no surprise then that the best and freshest olive oil is both extra virgin and cold-pressed – and of course, certified organic!

I have been told time and time again: “I always use olive oil in everything I cook”.  The reality is though that as consumers we have to shed the ‘big box wholesaler’ mentality we have eaten up so eagerly.  It is not the quantity of olive oil you use, but the quality of extra virgin olive oil we eat.

We have worked and will continue to strive to earn your trust.  You will not be disappointed when investing in our products.  We thank you for your continued support in our local small business and in our certified organic products.  Wishing you all a happy and healthy upcoming holiday season!

From the Olive Grove

Basil Koutalianos

Basil Olive Oil Products Ltd.


Olive Oil Cookbook

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A wonderful combination of Greek classics, treasured family recipes, and some wonderful recipes as supplied by the chefs who use our olive oil.
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Prevents Calcium Loss
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