The olive oil you buy may be a ripoff

Don't Waste Your Money

One of the hottest food trends these days is olive oil, for cooking, for dressings, for dipping your bread in, even for dessert.

But a new report says some of the oil you are buying is not what it appears to be on the label.

Olive Oil Shops Now Opening

Americans are in so love with olive oil that specialty shops are popping up all over.

Olive shop co-owner Lynn Altonen helps customers taste before they buy. Then, customers get fresh-pressed oil out of sealed stainless steel drums, poured as you watch.

But Forbes Magazine says so many companies have jumped onto the olive oil bandwagon,  what you buy -- in the magazine's words --  is often a "scam."

Forbes says many cheap brands are only partially olive oil.

Few Labeling Regulations

Lynn says the problem is there are no labeling rules.

"To say there's olive oil in it," Altonen said. "They can put a splash of extra virgin in it, and it can be mostly canola oil, safflower oil and they can still call it extra virgin."

While her oils are all labeled as to origin, she looked over some supermarket bottles that use oil from everywhere.

One said "imported" on the front of the bottle.  But Altonen said on the back, "they are saying its a product of different countries, such as Spain, Argentina, Tunisia, but it's packed in the USA."

Another says it's Italian oil, the label saying "packed in Italy," but "it doesn't tell you where the olive oil came from, it only tells you where it was packed," Altonen said.

Look for Dark Bottles

Both Altonen and Forbes Magazine say olive oil should be packed in dark bottles, not clear glass, as cheaper oils are.

"A clear bottle is not good for olive oil because being exposed to fluorescent lighting will break down the oil faster," she said.

But Forbes magazine, says there's a simple solution: Look for:

     -Extra virgin oil

     -Imported, sourced, and bottled from just one country

      -Packaged in a dark bottle.    

And the magazine says olive oil is best used within a year of pressing: The best olive oils will tell you the date the olives were pressed.

Sure you'll have to pay a little more, but you get the real thing, and that way you don't waste your money.


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