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How Can You Tell If Olive Oil is Real?

Posted by John Arlotta on

Taking a Closer Look:

How Can You Tell if Your Olive Oil is Real?

The consumer goods you know and love are at risk of being imitated with fraudulent and low-quality materials. Unfortunately, this occurs often in the food and beverage industry, including in the production of olive oil. Would you be able to tell the difference between authentic olive oil and counterfeit olive oil? If you’re shaking your head no, don’t fret. The truth is, many people would not be able to distinguish between real olive oil and an imitation. 

The Road to Deception

Producing high-caliber extra virgin olive oil requires an extraordinary amount of effort, time, and money. For counterfeiters, this isn’t the case. Their road to deception is simple, less costly, and not as time-consuming. 

One type of fraudulent olive oil is blended with low-grade oils and ingredients that at first glance, smell, or taste could be mistaken for the real thing. Some of these oils include canola, hazelnut, peanut, soybean, and vegetable. These oils are chemically altered even further with food dyes and fragrances that mimic the characteristics of real olive oil. Imitating the taste of true olive oil can be done by producing oil from rotten olives. This is known as “lamp oil” and it is the lowest grade of olive oil. It is also not intended for human consumption unless refined. Refining the rotten oil takes the rancidity out of the product, but it is no less rotten post-production. 

In other cases, blends are created using extra virgin olive oil that has been stored well past its harvest date. Olive oil can become rancid over time and this is accelerated by storing it in plastic containers without regard for temperature or light control. Unfortunately, these are regular practices in the world of counterfeit olive oil.

In the worst of cases, counterfeiters have gone as far as blending with harmful substances, resulting in serious illness, and death. In 1981, there was a mass outbreak of toxic oil syndrome in Spain. That epidemic took the lives of over 300 people and approximately 20,000 became seriously ill. The people affected believed they were consuming olive oil when in fact they were being poisoned by adulterated rapeseed oil. 

Why It Matters

It's estimated that up to 75-80% of the olive oil you find in your grocery store has been mislabeled or corrupted. With these statistics, there is a good chance that you purchased counterfeit olive oil and didn’t know it. Imagine placing your trust in a product only to find out it’s been stretched with oils and chemicals? This is a greater concern for those with food allergies as oils can be corrupted with peanut or soybean oil. 

Real olive oil is not only delicious but it also provides a variety of health benefits due to its powerful antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and other nutrients. It’s no wonder some people call it, “Yellow Gold.” People who choose to buy olive oil for the purposes of better health should always feel confident in their selection. At Arlotta Food Studio, we believe every olive oil consumer is entitled to real extra virgin olive oil of the best quality. 

How to Ensure You’re Buying Real Olive Oil

Here are a few tips to determine the authenticity of your olive oil:

Use Your Senses - Take your time when sampling olive oil. Pour a tablespoon or two into a glass and immediately take notice of what you smell. Olive oil should not smell rancid but it should not be odorless either. If you’re able to describe the scents as fresh, fruity, or grassy then chances are you have real olive oil. Upon tasting the oil, you should notice some earthiness and peppery notes. Even though extra virgin olive oil is a type of fat, you shouldn’t be left with a waxy or greasy taste in your mouth. Keep in mind that producers of authentic olive oil will always encourage sampling of their oil in a retail setting. Be wary of those who don’t.

Labels Matter - Look for statements such as extra virgin olive oil, first cold-pressed, early harvest, or third-party seals of certification.

Straight from the Source - Olive oil sold directly from mills, estates, or producers is a sure bet. These producers generally leave out the “middlemen” ensuring their customers are receiving a genuine and exquisite product.

Type of Container - Choose a dark container that will protect the olive oil from sunlight and stay away from plastic. Plastic can affect the taste and quality of olive oil and provides little protection from the elements. 

Authentically Arlotta 

You should take comfort in knowing that Arlotta Food Studio provides you with genuine extra virgin olive oil. We strive to bring you superior products that are rooted in tradition, carefully picked, and first cold-pressed on our family groves in central California’s San Joaquin Valley. Experience Arlotta Food Studio’s extra virgin olive oil today in its traditional or flavor-infused varieties and taste the difference!




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