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Extra virgin olive oil, too many frauds and not enough : buy it in the countryside

3 restaurants out of 4 do not respect the rule of using closures against top ups, there is a 278% increase in products confiscated because adulterated, or false oils



By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

Information regarding frauds and advice for those who want at home an extra virgin olive oil to exalt the taste of food and is good for your health.

Frauds are destroying the wonderful reputation Italian extra virgin olive oil had. Prestige that had taken years and years of work and investments to get qualified olive groves, olive mills and employees. A million hectares of olive grove, the most olive oils with an appellation (44) in Europe, and the largest number of olive varieties in the world with  395 cultivar (see Cronache di Gusto).

On September 28th, the day dedicated to olive oil, that took place in Florence, became a court case, with Coldiretti on the defensive and 10,000 angry farmers who arrived in the city on their tractors.



Frauds have quadrupled; with in prime position the sale of foreign oils as if it were made in Italy and even sunflower seed oil labelled as extra virgin olive oil. So Roberto Moncalvo President of the Coldiretti asks for names <<of the companies where the oil from abroad is destined>>. This is in fact what is most scary for those who bring in tankers full of oil of dubious provenance and quality; Let us know their names.  29,5 million euro of sequestered goods,  58 people reported to the authorities have not in fact been sufficient to stop this ever growing scam: I buy oil abroad, I bottle it in Italy, and I sell it as if it came from our olive groves.



In the meantime the real national production is in difficulty. Because other than this fraudulent competition there is another problem called xylella, the bacteria this is attacking the olive groves in Puglia, plus this year the weather has not been at all favourable so the 2016 yield will be 38% less than last year.

What must the consumer do in such a situation? Spend a November weekend doing “Olive tourism” going to the olive mills or the farms to buy what they need for the next 12 months.  Fattoria del Colle, in Southern Tuscany is in an area well known for centuries for its extra virgin olive oil.



Here is some advice from the l’Onaoo –Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio d’Oliva

1) Buy at least three types of extra virgin olive oil (lightly, medium and intense fruity) fruity, and learn to match with different foods

2) There must be no negative smells in the oil. Aroma of artichoke, apple, or other hints of vegetables

3) The oil aroma must recall the olives

4) Frying with extra virgin olive oil is surely preferable and healthier than sunflower seed oil, even thug it is more expensive

5) Cold pressing, so less than 27°C, is not a guarantee for quality even though it is good practice

6) When the oil is DOP or IGP check if on the label the certification is present


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