14 settembre 2009

The lies hiding under the labels of extravirgin olive oil

Recently UK Which? site tested some leading brands olive oils.
The results of the test are surprising and somewhat disappointing for the food lovers.
Why? Because the results prove that we consumers are subject to a serious scam.
The scam is organized by the biggest (in quantity) olive oil producers and consists, basically, in lying to the consumers. In saying that the oil is Italian when it's not. In saying that the oil is extravirgin when it's only virgin or less, in telling them that it's valuable (because it has a high price tag) when, in reality, its value it's less than other far cheaper and better competitors.
All this scam has been unveiled by the results of the Which? magazine, which were published also by the other English magazines (but not, surprisingly, by the Italian press).
A blind tasting by a panel of olive oil experts found that cheap bottles sold in hard discounts were better (and far cheaper) than those at the most pricey and acclaimed supermarkets.

The consumer group described the hard discount oils as 'exceptional value', each receiving four stars.

Other supermarket and branded extra-virgin oils were disappointing, with lower ratings (but higher price).
Which? magazine said: "You don't have to dig deep in your wallet to get good quality. Of the 12 supermarket and branded extra virgin olive oils our experts tasted, two of our best buys are from budget supermarkets and, per 100ml, they're by far the cheapest on test - giving them both 'exceptional value'."

The consumer group added that, no matter how good an oil, it had to be stored in a cool, dark place to avoid losing its freshness.
Among their less favoured bottles, Carapelli's oil tasted of "stale nuts", despite costing 84p per 100ml (the costliest of the group).
Now comes the sad part. You may think that Carapelli is Italian, right? Because the name is Italian, and the brand reads "Carapelli Firenze".
And come on there is this ad :

which looks definitely Italian!!!!!

Well, the ad may look Italian but Carapelli is not! Carapelli was bought by the Spanish multinational SOS Cuertara which also bought Dante and Sasso (formerly Italian brands). And it is known, among the experts (but not the consumers! and how could they know with ads like that and lying labels...) that Carapelli has only a small percentage of Italian olives in his blend.

This situation is a real pain not only for the entire Italian food industry, but also, more sadly, for the honest and extraordinary Italian farmers who produce a really excellent olive oil. They are often forced to sell below cost their oil, because of the commercial power of mulinational brands and mass distribution organizations. Even worse,they may be forced to sell or close their activity.

This issue has been extensively investigated in the past by other journalists, like Tom Mueller of the New Yorker. He's writing also a book on the subject. The title? “Extra Virginity: A Cultural and Criminal History of Olive Oil”. :-(

My personal reaction and suggestion to this scam is: don't trust the ads, because people who make them doesn't deserve your trust (and money). Do trust the people you know or that you may know and buy from them.
If you don't have the luck to live near them, well use the internet!! There are more and more farmers who tell online their life and the true way they work and who sell online, now.
Who needs the supermarkets any more?! :-)

source: Gianna Ferretti's trashfood blog.

3 commenti:

  1. "How can there be such a difference? Lies of course. Right there in the (big bucks) advertising. Read: The lies hiding under the labels of extravirgin olive oil"

  2. Interesting. I thought Italy had strong controls on their bottling and exporting, though? (DOC, DOCG etc etc.)

    Who controls this, Michele?

  3. Peter, thank you for you comment.
    Soon I will write a post explaining the problem of DOC DOCG etc. certification.
    Just one hint: the "G" of "DOCG" stands for "Guaranteed". Why, the "DOC" is not guaranteed?! ;-)