Or, why Bertoli isn’t the best.
Two class-action lawsuits were filed last year against Bertoli and Filippo Berio – two very popular olive oil brands you can find in your local grocery store. The lawsuits claim that the Extra Virgin Olive Oil that these two sell was tested for quality and found to not meet the requirements to be labeled extra virgin – or, if the requirements were met at the time of bottling, the clear glass bottles the product is sold in does not protect the product from light and heat, which will degrade the quality of the product. They also claim that the labeling is misleading consumers in to believing that they are purchasing Italian Olive Oil.
You can read more about the lawsuit by clicking here.
Here are a few simple things to look out for when you’re purchasing Extra Virgin Olive Oil, so you know you’re getting a great product!
- Look for a crush or press date, NOT an expiry date
- Look for tinted glass bottles
Light and heat are two things that can degrade olive oil very quickly – and one of the ways to protect the olive oil is to keep it away from direct light. If you see an olive oil being sold in a dark glass bottle, that means less light has come in to contact with the oil – meaning a better product for you!
- Extra Virgin Doesn’t Just Mean Italian!
Italy is one of the world’s largest importers of olive oil – but not the largest producer! About 43% of the world’s olive oil is actually produced in Spain. There are a few oils in the grocery store that will say “imported by” or “bottled in” Italy – to make you think you’re buying an Italian olive oil. Keep an eye out for this and make sure you know where your oil is coming from – Great Extra Virgin Olive Oil can come from Spain, Tunisia, Portugal, as well as Southern Hemisphere countries like Chile, Peru, and Australia!
- Taste it!
Don’t crack the bottle open at the store, but if you have some olive oil you aren’t sure about at home in the cupboard, here’s a quick test you can do. Pour a small amount of the olive oil in to a cup or shot glass, and warm the cup in your hands for a few seconds. Then, slurp the oil back. The olive oil should taste green and fresh, maybe reminding you of cut grass, green bananas, or even tomato leaf. You should feel a bit of a burn at the back of your throat as well, from the antioxidants (polyphenols) in the olive oil. If you don’t feel that burn and it doesn’t taste good – the oil might be a bit past it’s prime.
All olive oil degrades naturally over time – so how do you know if your olive oil is fresh? We usually say you should use up your olive oil within 18 months of the initial crush date, so you know you’re using a quality product and getting all the health benefits! If you can only see an expiry date on the bottle, you may not be picking up the freshest olive oil available.
In case you missed it, here’s a great little infographic on The New York Times website about some of the interesting issues with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil business.