Is it true that some “extra virgin” olive oil is fake?
Q: I’ve heard that some olive oil labeled as “extra virgin” really isn’t. Is that true? —C.K., Staten Island, N.Y.
A. Potentially. In Europe, the “extra virgin” label is strictly regulated and requires, among other things, that the oil is produced by cold processing (mashing or slicing), meets certain standards for acidity and other characteristics, and is free of taste defects. But those standards are voluntary in the U.S., and manufacturers or importers can use the “extra virgin” label on oils that are subpar or have been stored improperly, which can degrade their quality. In our tests of 23 extra-virgin olive oils last year, we found that most had flaws that made them unworthy of the label, not to mention the premium price it typically fetches. But here’s some good news: Of the two oils rated Excellent by our expert testers, one—Trader Joe’s California Estate—was also among the least expensive, at just 35 cents an ounce.
Learn how olive oil and other delicious items (chocolate, anyone?) can help your heart.