Amid Olive Oil Scams Proliferating In Italy & Spain, How Can You Spot Fake Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Drought in the Mediterranean region has created a shortage of extra virgin olive oil and a breeding ground for fraudsters.

by Sanjana Shenoy
Amid Olive Oil Scams Proliferating In Italy & Spain, How Can You Spot Fake Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

There’s a major olive oil scam happening in Europe, especially in Italy and Spain. Rampant olive oil shortages coupled with skyrocketing prices have created a breeding ground for fraudulent producers. So, the next time you wish to purchase extra virgin olive oil, read on to know how you can save yourself from scams.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Scams Are Happening In Europe

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Picture Credits: Canva

According to a report by Euronews, in November 2023, authorities seized a whopping 260,000 litres of counterfeit olive oil bottles. The police conducted coordinated raids in Spain and Italy to nab the fraudsters. Alarm bells rang in Rome when over 50 restaurants came under the scanner for selling and serving dishes prepared with counterfeit olive oil.

Over the past few months, bottles of fake olive oil are slowly making their way onto European tables. Fraudsters were substituting olive oil with much cheaper seed oil. Unlike olive oil, seed oil is colourless. So, scamsters add chlorophyll to it to give it a green tint. Then, carotenoids are added for the yellow tint. Finally, the oil obtains a greenish-yellowish tint, resembling olive oil. However, even if they look similar, there are major differences. And using these differences, you can avoid falling prey to inauthentic products.

Also Read: Starbucks Serves Unusual Coffees With Olive Oil! Here’s Where You Can Find Them!

How Can You Spot Fake Products?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Picture Credits: Canva

So, here are some ways you can identify fake oil from authentic extra virgin olive oil.

  • Firstly, seed oil has no distinct smell.
  • Unlike extra virgin olive oil it’s tasteless.
  • The Polyphenols in seed oil give it a very weird taste.
  • It won’t taste as robust as olive oil.
  • Always check the label before buying a bottle
  • Check the information for date and location of harvest displayed on the bottle
  • If there’s a QR code, scan it to navigate the production chain
  • Also, check for seals from a third-party certifier or tester.

However, these checks would be difficult if seed oil is mixed with olive oil. Italian olive oil producer, Sabina Petrucci states to Euronews that even checks fall short in some cases. So, consumers need to be more aware. The drought in the Mediterranean has created a global olive oil shortage. This has led to price hikes and fraudsters in cahoots with restaurants to deceive customers.

Also Read: Top 5 Myths About Olive Oil Busted!

Meanwhile, take this as a wake-up call to use this list to identify fake olive oil. Also, it always helps to be aware of the happenings around us. Especially the scams.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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