Why your favorite olive oil may be a ripoff

Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 21:07:01-05

Do you buy olive oil for your health?

Turns out that olive oil you buy in the supermarket may not be real olive oil at all.

Olive Oil More Popular Than Ever

Business is booming at small, independently owned olive oil shops like Mt. Kofina's in Cincinnati's Findlay Market.

Here the Semertzides brothers -- with shirts that say Olive Oil Snob -- sell their family's genuine Greek olive oil to shoppers looking for the real thing.

A recent string of investigative reports -- from CBS's "60 Minutes" to Forbes Magazine --- claim that much of the extra virgin olive oil sold in supermarkets is not the real thing.

Nick Semertizides said "the vast majority of what's on the shelf is not real olive oil. You get what you pay for."

The reports, and several recent lawsuits, claim many brands are really blends of olive, sunflower, and canola oils.

No Law Defining Extra Virgin

The Semertizides brothers sell dozen different flavors of true olive oil, imported from their family's olive grove on the Greek island of Crete.

So how do you know you are getting the real thing? The folks here say the smaller the producer, the better.

"The smaller producer has no incentive to adulterate the oil, save a couple of bucks per bottle and destroy his brand," they said.

Recent investigations say watch for the terms "imported from" or "packed in" Italy. In many cases, it is packed with oil from multiple countries.

They also say if its the cheapest on the shelf, you risk buying a bitter, flavored blend.

What about the law? There is no specific federal standard defining extra virgin olive oil, as there is for organic food.

So you have to be diligent, so you don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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