To be labeled extra virgin, olive oil can’t be rancid, adulterated with cheap refined olive oil, or doctored up – cut -- with lesser oils, like hazelnut. The study sampled 14 imported brands. The portion that failed to meet international standards for extra-virgin quality was 69 percent. Dan Flynn with the UC Davis Olive Center expected as much.
"That’s pretty consistent with the anecdotal report we were getting from our trained tasters."
A small portion of California olive oil also failed to meet minimum standards. Patricia Darragh of the California Olive Oil Council, which helped fund the study, says it provides important information for consumers.
"It’s not only that people are spending good money for a fraudulently labeled product, but they’re not getting the health benefits that many people want."
The USDA will start enforcing new American standards for extra-virgin olive oil in October.