Not So Virgin Olive Oil


In this week's issue of the New Yorker, Tom Mueller looks at the history of adulterated olive oil in Italy from Ancient Rome through today. Here's a little context:

In 1997 and 1998, olive oil was the most adulterated agricultural product in the European Union, prompting the E.U.'s anti-fraud office to establish an olive-oil task force. ("Profits were comparable to cocaine trafficking, with none of the risks," one investigator told me.)

The U.S. might be especially susceptible to such fraud:

The American market, which is worth about one and a half billion dollars, is the largest outside Europe, and is growing at a rate of ten per cent a year. Yet the Food and Drug Administration considers olive-oil fraud a relatively rare problem and does not routinely test oils for adulteration.

Definitely worth a read.

-Ian Froeb