Thursday, August 9, 2007

Not So Virgin Olive Oil

Posted By on Thu, Aug 9, 2007 at 9:30 AM

In this week's issue of the New Yorker, Tom Mueller looks at the history of adulterated olive oil in Italy from Ancient Rome through today. Here's a little context:

click to enlarge

In 1997 and 1998, olive oil was the most adulterated agricultural product in the European Union, prompting the E.U.'s anti-fraud office to establish an olive-oil task force. ("Profits were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks," one investigator told me.)

The U.S. might be especially susceptible to such fraud:

The American market, which is worth about one and a half billion dollars, is the largest outside Europe, and is growing at a rate of ten per cent a year. Yet the Food and Drug Administration considers olive-oil fraud a relatively rare problem and does not routinely test oils for adulteration.

Definitely worth a read.

-Ian Froeb

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