NPR aired a segment this morning on how Connecticut “became the first state in the nation to enact standards to protect the purity of olive oil.” All I can say is: It’s about time. Olive oil fraud has been on the rise ever since Americans fell in love with the so-called Mediterranean diet. Four years ago, the New York Times wrote about how the majority of olive oils from Italy actually come from other countries. Now NPR reports that:
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell ordered food inspectors to test the suspicious product.
“We came across cans of olive oil that were for sale in Connecticut that had, after testing, these other oils in there — peanut oil, soy oil, hazelnut oil,” Farrell says.
In April 2007, FDA investigators and U.S. Marshals seized more than 10,000 cases of olive oil from storage facilities in New York and New Jersey. It turned out that tins labeled as extra virgin contained mostly soybean oil mixed with low grade olive-pomace oil. The seized products had an estimated retail value of more than $700,000. Amusing as it may sound, Farrell says there’s a serious side to the story.
“We saw it as not only that the consumer was being cheated, but their health was being put at risk by these oils being in there and it not being disclosed in any way,” he says.
For many people with serious food allergies, nut oils can be fatal. So Connecticut became the first state in the nation to enact standards to protect the purity of olive oil.
The time has come for other states to follow suit.
Photo by Flickr user WordRidden