Which Olive Oil to Buy?


Which Olive Oil to Buy? The Olive Oil Fraud!

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Which Olive Oil to Buy? The Olive Oil Fraud!

Many of us want to use ‘extra virgin olive oil’ for all the wonderful health benefits and taste, but when you go to the trouble of seeking it out, and spending the extra money, there is a high chance that it is not virgin at all!

That olive oil  is likely to be a fraud. A high percentage of the olive oils are not at all what they say on the label. Just because they say it is ‘Extra-virgin olive oil’ or even ‘Certified’ does not mean that it actually is. All olive oils are not created equal.

Italy’s extra virgin olive oil scandal!

The anti-fraud police squad in Turin, Italy are examining seven well-known olive oil brands (Carapelli, Bertolli, Santa Sabina, Coricelli, Sasso, Primadonna and Antica Badia) to find out if they are selling an inferior virgin olive oil as “extra virgin” olive oil. To learn more, watch this video:

60 Minutes’ Looks at Olive Oil Adulteration in Italy.Extra Virgin Suicide slide show by Nicholas Blechman explains well what happens on the NY Times

In America, more than $700 million a year is spent on olive oil, but unfortunately, it is not really olive oil because of olive oil fraud. Most of the olive oils on the market are cut with cheap vegetable oils.

The results from the Consumer Report’s found that only 9 of the 23 olive oils from Italy, Spain and California tested, and passed as being extra virgin olive oil even though all of them  claimed so on the label. AND: “More than half tasted fermented or stale.”

International standards for extra virgin olive oil are mostly unenforced. Although the term ‘extra virgin’ is generally understood to denote the highest quality of olive oil, industry representatives report that the current standards are easily met by producers and allow olive oil marketed as ‘extra virgin’ to represent a wide range of qualities. This lack of enforcement has resulted in a long history of fraudulent practices (adulteration and mislabelling) in the olive oil sector.”  – United States International Trade Commission

In a study at the UC Davis Olive Center, it was found that 69% of the imported ‘extra virgin’ olive oil sold in California supermarkets did not qualify as extra virgin. Tests indicate that imported “extra virgin”olive oil often fails international and USDA standards.

A bottle labeled “extra-virgin olive oil” may not be olive oil and instead be a seed oil which is made to smell and look  like olive oil by adding a few drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene.

Olive oils that failed to meet the ‘extra virgin’ olive oil standards:

  • Bertolli
  • Carapelli
  • Colavita
  • Star
  • Filippo Berio
  • Mazzola
  • Mezzetta
  • Newman’s Own
  • Safeway
  • Whole Foods

Which Olive Oils Are Good?

These olive oils have met the extra-virgin standards; this list of brands is from the research above.

  • Bariani Olive Oil is Stone Crushed, Cold Pressed, Decanted and Unfiltered California Extra Virgin Olive Oil and they are committed to producing an authentic extra virgin olive oil which is raw. Weston Price recommends this oil.
  • Corto Olive – can sometimes be purchased at Cosco.
  • Cobram Estate  – Australia’s most awarded extra virgin olive oil
  • California Olive Ranch
  • Kirkland Organic
  • Lucero (Ascolano)
  • McEvoy Ranch Organic
  • Ottavio
  • Omaggio
  • Whole Foods California 365 
  • Olea Estates 100% extra virgin olive oil is from an extremely reliable source and is our top recommendation. This olive oil is grown on a single family farm in Greece and is a great tasting olive oil.  We think so highly about this that we contacted them and they did give us a code for a discount which now is invalid. I spoke with them they will be giving us another discount code very soon.

Consumer Reports (September 2012 issue), published results of a taste test of 138 bottles of extra virgin olive oil from 23 manufacturers. The olive oil was sourced from the US, Argentina, Greece, Chile, and Italy. They found that olive oil produced in California exceeded those from Italy.
Two highest scoring olive oils (both from California) from their testing were:

Ellora Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best olive oils. It is 100% Pure Cretan Extra Virgin Olive Oil of which the origin and authenticity is certified by the EU standards. While meeting the stringent requirements it maintains a focus on environmental consciousness and tradition. When you are ordering it online it comes in many sizes which can make shipping more economical. This is the one I am getting: 2 tins of Ellora Extra Virgin Olive Oil  and 2 Ellora EVOO spray bottles saves on shipping to get lots at the same time.

What is Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

  • First, the oil must come from fresh olives that were milled within 24 hours of their harvest.
  • Next, it must be extracted by mechanical means, not from heat or chemicals.
  • They must not be treated chemically in any way.
  • Extra virgin oil is, in fact, fresh olive juice.
  • Being a fruit, olives contain natural antioxidants that protect the plant during its lifetime. When the olive tree is very old it contains more of these antioxidants. This is one of the reasons that olive trees are often hundreds of years old and create antioxidant rich products.

As you read above, not all olive oil is the same, so it is important to purchase the right type of olive oil.

Extra-virgin olive oil (cold pressed) is the best.  The problem is: How do we know if it is the real thing and not fraud oil?

6 Tips for Recognizing Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  1. Do not buy light olive oil or a blend; it isn’t virgin quality.
  2. When extra virgin olive oil costs less than $10 a litre it may not be real.
  3. Only buy oils in dark bottles, as this protects the oil from oxidation.
  4. Look for a seal from the International Olive Oil Council (IOC)
  5. Look for a harvesting date on the label.
  6. Olive oil can get old and rancid. A simple test for a “good” olive oil is to taste a little on a spoon. Not rancid, real olive oil will have a fruity taste in the front of your mouth and a peppery taste in the back of your mouth.

How about the fridge test as stated by Dr Oz? He said that when you put a real extra-virgin olive oil in the refrigerator, it will become thick and cloudy as it cools completely. That is not a for sure test (some oils made from high-wax olive varieties will even solidify) according to a Fridge Test.

Learn more about how to use olive oil: 12 Health Benefits of Olive Oil With Infographic

Olive oil is my favourite for making salad dressings.
Here are 5 delicious salad dressing recipes:

Olive Oil Lemon Juice Salad Dressing

Powerful Anti-Inflammatory Salad Dressing

Raspberry Lemon Salad Dressing

Balsamic Salad Dressing 

Lemon-Mint Salad Dressing


About the Author:

I am the Founder and Author at Real Food For Life. Have been teaching cooking classes worldwide since 1982. Create original, healthy recipes and menus, which are gluten free and white sugar free. Also, the author of the GREEN means LEAN and Balance Your Body e-books. I turned a debilitating health crisis into a passion for helping others with healthy, sugar free, gluten free eating and coo
  • Mary January 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

    Do you know about Belluci olive oil? I buy it at Sprouts. Thanks

  • Diana Herrington January 4, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    The Bellucci extra virgin olive oil has a QR code right on the bottle so that you could see precisely where it came from and track it back to the olive farm so that sounds very good!

  • Mike January 4, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Does this apply to all olive oil or only extra virgin? I have a bottle of Colavita Olive Oil which has very little scent. Then I have a bottle of Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil and it has a beautiful aroma which I believe to be the real deal.

  • DWAIN BOELTER January 14, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Please update your article. Their site says the REAL10 coupon is INVALID

  • Nancy January 19, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    The Olive Mill in Queen Creek, Arizona is the real deal! Made on site with no heat and light, organic and harvest dates on bottles. Just went to the tour at the Olive Mill. Check out their website.

  • Brian January 20, 2016 at 3:16 am

    What do you know about the olivari brand?

  • Sam Costa January 23, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    If a specific extra virgin olive oil does not have a chemistry profile showing polyphenols, free fatty acids, peroxides, oleic acid, and diacylglycerol compositions then the consumer has absolutely no idea what they are buying no matter what country or store they buy from. I recommend googling “olive oil chemistry profile” to become educated on the subject. Having the profile/numbers/specs allows EVOO’s to be compared and levels the playing field. Without the numbers/specs/profile the consumer is left in the dark. People claim to have the best but without the numbers they have no idea what they are purchasing. Someone mentioned Queen Creek but they don’t provide chemistry profiles and therefore the consumer has no clue of their quality. Their quality may be excellent but how would the consumer know when they don’t provide the numbers to support the quality. One could easily make the the argument that many olive estates collect their olives off the ground and therefore the quality of the olives are poor prior to crush. How would anyone know without the profile. If you just take someones word that an EVOO is the best or of good quality you’re just fooling yourself!! People are writing in asking about specific brands but the author can not make any claims unless she can provide a chemistry panel showing the EVOO’s quality, purity, and freshness. Do your research and find a shop that provides chemistry profiles and crush date for each EVOO they offer. There’s no other way!!

  • Cathy February 11, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    What can we do about these companies that are selling fake olive oil?

  • Gungun Kapoor February 21, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Where did u get the list Diane ? Because in another article on the same study it listed whole foods olive oil in the same “fake” category as pompeian etc.

  • Suzie Z February 23, 2016 at 11:45 am

    UnFORTUNATELY, the UC DAVIS had been using testing methods that are rejected by Europe as flawed and unreliable. Europe uses a totally different method, and I would go with them as they have been testing olives a whole lot longer than UC Davis has. This study was paid for y the California Olive growers association….Not good in itself…use an unbiased tester and I may believe it. Many olive oils are bitter, its the olive and how green it is…All oil shouldn’t be used be used for general use….one should pick the olive oil for whatever application. I personally like Colavita if I run out of what I usually use. I go to a grower in St. Helena California and buy mine for general use, its a great oil and good for all round use. I don’t trust most grocery store products but a few are pretty good, I usually shop at Whole Foods where I find a bit better products…ACUALLY, for almost everything…especially produce. Far and above other chain groceries…REMEMBER, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

  • Suzie Z February 23, 2016 at 11:52 am

    ANY oil should be used up relatively quickly…they become rancid if not. Buy in smaller quantities if you don’t use a lot. I use up a gallon of EVOO for general use in about 4 months…and it’s fine, I do buy very fresh olive oil however. I love olive oil, even the bitter ones have a use.. California has great ones, I also thought that the oil in Turkey was extra good. Going to Italy in May, will let you all know about that!!! I think the key is to buy from an olive oil company that you like if possible. Olive oil has many nutritious qualities to help promote a healthy body, so the better it is, I feel the better your benefits..

  • Ken March 1, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Wow. Great info. To the point, people friendly, and the listings are awesome. It’s nice to have info get to the point and not have a lot of additives to read. Thank you. KB

  • Linda March 7, 2016 at 9:27 am

    In response to Nancy’s comment on Queen Creek Olive Mill…they do produce a wonderful product. I believe their EVOO is pure and not cut. However, I do not believe their OO is organic. None of the bottles I have from there is labeled organic and when you do a search on their website for the term organic no results are produced.

  • Linda March 7, 2016 at 9:32 am

    Update: Queen Creek Olive Mills label does list their oil as pesticide free and herbicide free. So I am guessing they use organic practices but are not certified organic. All in all, I love their oils!

  • Alberto March 8, 2016 at 6:33 am

    I really love a small brand of EVOO done in Catalunya (Spain) called “Baró de l’Albi” that can be purchased online at Oliverium.com
    This oil is 100% from arbequina and always is from the same year that has been milled. Their quality is extremely good.

  • Patty Keeper March 13, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Thanks for the LISTS of brand names. I am not an expert and don’t plan to become one – just a brand name I can trust is good enough for me. (And I just put my store brand EVOO in the fridge… can’t wait to see what happens!)

  • JULIE LINDUR March 25, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    Most of the oils considered “true and safe” are from USA! Are you trying to say that USA is the safest Country in the World to buy olive oil from? Have you investigated Australian made olive oils? There are other Countries in the World

  • Josette Nadon May 13, 2016 at 6:31 am

    I would like to know is Selection cold press olive oil from IGA real .

  • marlene Aragon May 17, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    I am half Sicilian and my Sicilian grandmother was a fantastic cook. She is long gone and I have been using Trader Giotta’s O. Oil for a long time. It does seem to have a good flavor, but I have not been concentrating on other oils for a loooong time.

    You failed to answer the question about Trader Joe’s oil (above) but mentioned MANY others . .

    I hope you’ll give me an answer as well about this product!

    Thanks, Marlene

  • Tk May 22, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I have just purchased a small 250 ml bottle of Bertolli olive oil for $8 usd. The small bottles are light glass while the bigger ones are in plastic bottles and more costly,it has the (ioc) seal on the lable on the bottle which says that it designates that Bertolli olive oil meets the exacting standards of the international olive council (ioc) worldwide governing body that sets quality standards for the olive oil industry, does this mean that this oil is legit or not? iwhat should I think of this since you mentioned Bertolli in the questionable list ?

  • MARLA May 24, 2016 at 11:45 am

    What about O organics brand?

  • Gail May 28, 2016 at 7:26 am

    What about Braggs?

  • Jan May 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Today there is not much safe for us Most products we clean and use on our bodies are the cause of cancers or other organ damage. One doctor told me that the only place we normally can count on the word Organic is in our food. I do believe this. When you purchase lets say Shampoo….If it says organic most of the time the product is in plastic and there sure is nothing Organic about plastic. It really is our governments fault The FDA for not doing more to protect us. So many people have to die from a product before they will even put a warning on it. It is not removed from the shelf. This is just a BAD JOKE. The only thing we can do is not purchase the products that are known to be unsafe and that way the company will get the idea and offer us a better solution. We need to stick together. Our water supply will not stay in the safe area if we do not.

  • Linda May 29, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    What about Kirkland Tuscany ??

  • Bm ciccarello May 30, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Absolutely no better EVOO (nor likely healthier) than my cousin’s EVOO from Sicily.

    Ridiculously good.

  • Bill Anbody June 5, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Sadly the manufacturers are adding all types of oil to the blend to make more money. another problem is the views shown in this blog where people defend a store and don’t see that any company can be guilty. Trader joes and Whole Foods are in business to make money and some of their oils are fake and some are real good.
    Reality is California oils packed and sold in the USA are the best and purest on the market. Even Traders and Whole Foods sell the real stuff.
    This is not a contest to defend any one company but to inform users on the issue.

    Thanks to Diana for posting the issues !

  • D. ann June 11, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    The tests you mention seem subjective not scientific. Where is the proof? I spoke to a manager at Felippo Berio today, and she said they test every batch to be sure it’s 100% olive oil.

  • Nina Christian June 12, 2016 at 9:18 am

    I think all these people get paid to list their products as pure olive. the California Olive Ranch that I bought DIDNOT
    PASS the refrigerated test

  • Diana Herrington June 24, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    I just updated links above and added much more information from the new research. I am still learning about olive oil too. There is so much controversy and much to figure out. I had to leave researching it for a while as there are so many changes going on upgrading this site and all the new places I am writing for.

    About the invalid Olea coupon: I spoke to someone there 2 weeks ago and he told me Olea, had a makeover on their site and the coupon offered became invalid. Good news is that a new coupon will arrive in July.

  • Luca Tagliaferro June 28, 2016 at 6:37 am

    hello, I would like to add to the list also this extra virgin olive oil from Italy:https://justolivesltd.com/

  • fernando July 4, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I want to know more about the olive oil products from Spain and Greece, which brands of olive oil should i buy? Do you have any detailed review about Borges Olive Oil?… Thankyou

  • Jeremy July 17, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    I buy Il Re olive oil from an Italian food store in NJ and it works amazingly for everyday cooking. I use it on a lot of things that are cooked at low or no heat and would require butter or oil during the process.

  • Theresa Dequaine August 6, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I bought Prompein extra virgin first cold press olive oil and was wondering if it met the criteria.

  • David Burack August 26, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Alright, I read somewhere that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is NOT the right thing to use for cooking, because if authentic, it will fry down to goo. It should be used for salads, etc., and use a non-virgin oil for cooking. Is this true?

    In any case, finding certified NON-virgin olive oil is even more challenging than finding authentic EVOO, especially if you are now thinking mainly California, which I am.

  • Diana Herrington August 26, 2016 at 11:11 am

    Yes David, you are right about not cooking with extra virgin olive oil. You are right, if you do want to cook with it use a non-virgin oil.
    See the article that is all about olive oil:
    12 Health Benefits of Olive Oil With Infographic

  • Delores Kirkwood August 27, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    The test result you refer to were from 2010. A later 2013 study by UC Davis stated continued testing needing to be done.
    This list is outdate. Do a bit more research on google to find the most recent testing done by professionals.

  • Allan August 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Gallo olive oil is on sale at Valu-Mart this weekend. Valu Mart is Weston foods.

    Is it real olive oil??? The price is good. $8. 1 litre. ($7.99 advertised).

    I usually buy Tunisian Terra Delyssa. Same store. No issues. Great taste. Nice clean taste, a bit bitter. No health issues. $14 a litre.

    No, I do do not use a fridge test. It is crap or it is good. Literally. ROFL!

    However, I usually keep it in the fridge, and pour some in another bottle on the counter, because it does gel.

    Now the long part…

    I have “Myoclonus”.


    It is like death a million times over. Over 100 seizures per minute by times. Your site looks nice, so I thought I would ask a few questions about olive oil. I realize you are not a medical site. For medical questions, I have found one with 72,000 doctors. That should do the trick!

    Nocturnal myoclonus is my most devastating form of the symptoms. It obliterates my body next day. I have fasciculations as well, part of myoclonus. There is no cure, only relief somewhat through food.

    (And recently I added medical cannabis. It helps mostly with sleep and to eat).

    Stomach myoclonus is another symptom I have. Little is truly known about myoclonus. Even the science is still a wild guess. It is called a symptom, a precursor to something. The link explains it all.

    What I have I done? I stopped eating all processed foods. Everything. I am down to coffee and brown sugar to put in my coffee as my only processed food. And of course, olive oil. I do eat seeds and nuts. Some issues, but they are simply digestive, as myoclonus literally takes over the body, and slows digestion to a crawl.

    I have been able to narrow down the food products that help, and foods that nearly kill me. Oils are in the killer category. Especially bean based oils like soya.

    My diet is now fruits, real vegetables, nothing ever in a can, no condiments, non-processed frozen fruit, and fresh fruit. Lots of salads! I grow my own organically. Small garden I am slowly moving inside.

    Grain is also murder. So no grains. Even corn. If it is a grain, I am out. Seeds are ok. I figured out an olive is a fruit.

    And all cruciferous veggie are a big out. Or an ambulance ride will follow. Cabbage, kale, goodies like that for those unsure.

    And incredibly, I cannot even eat beans, or bean based products. I know, what do I eat??? I manage…

    Sometimes I get super sick, I can barely walk. So yes, I am extremely careful with what I eat.

    The Gallo site looks ok. But the bottle being sold by Weston, is not on the Gallo site. What gives??? Is it because it is old?

    Is it because it is packaged elsewhere? It is a Portuguese oil. I just want to know if it is on a bad list, or a good list.

    I also cannot eat processed meat, obviously.

    Also I cannot eat Weston meat that is over the counter. Phosphates.


    With myoclonus, phosphates create a temporary arthritic like pain, that can last a few days. In other words, I cannot walk without the risk of falling down. Weston appears to use them in the so called fresh meats. I can tell, because organic raised meat does not produce the effect.

    My next question, are phosphates used in the production of olive oil?

    That should keep ya busy! lol

    For now, I will just try the Gallo oil. I almost need a science lab to eat…

    In the end, to make it all come together, if an oil is corrupted, I get corrupted body wise, and I plan to find the culprits. When someone has a symptom or disease, the tendency is to look deeper, to find it’s source, or at least it’s best form of relief. I am sold on how healthy olive oil is, enough science backs that up,

    I am not sold at all on food processors or giant marketing chains like Weston aka Loblaws aka Valu-Mart and many more store brand names, that all end up being Weston. Wiki is a great resource to find out.

    I put Metro, Safeway, Costco, Walmart, all the big chains, in the same boat. Nothing personal against Weston.

    No political motivation as well. No PETA or anything like that. I just need to eat!

    And nice site. : )

  • Liz September 14, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Alan….you need a life! Who will read or cares about your rambling manifesto!

  • Leah September 21, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Allan, I have read your email and I can not even imagine what a struggle it is for you to find safe foods. I have a family member who has has seizures and celiac, and I know how challenging dealing with both of those conditions can be. I hope someone with a food chemistry background is able to help you in your search for healthier foods. The only reason people are even on sites such as these is because we are searching for honesty in our food products.

    And to the person who said you need a life? My wish for you is for a healthier life with plenty of safe foods to eat! If you can’t say something nice……..

    Good luck and I am on with my search for a gallon of good olive oil! Thanks to this website for giving some positive pointers!

  • Francis September 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

    ✅Cape Town South Africa just voted as the best quality olive oil in the world

  • Francis September 27, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Best produced quality olive oil in the world

  • Gabriella October 2, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Liz, your comment to Allan about his “rambling manifesto” and who cares is rude and heartless. You actually took the time to post something like this??? Be grateful you don’t have health issues

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