Extra Virgin Suicide

This morning, my husband and Gustiamo‘s senior advisor, Michael, said: How much did Gustiamo pay for this ad in The New York Times “Extra Virgin Suicide, The Adulteration of Italian Oil”? I said, it’s not an ad; it IS what we, at Gustiamo, have been complaining about for years. For those who missed it, The New York Times, using illustrations, reports from Tom Mueller’s blog, and says: “Much of the oil sold as Italian olive oil does not come from Italy but from countries like Spain, Morocco and Tunisia”.

Italy The World's Largest Importer of Olive Oil Paraphrasing: the olives are picked, taken to a mill, pressed, and the oil is shipped into Italy. Meanwhile, shipments of other cheap oils, labeled as olive oil, are smuggled into the same port where the Spanish, Moroccan and Tunisian oil is blended with the cheap oils and bottled as “extra virgin” and “produced in Italy”. Believe it or not, this is apparently legal. The New York Times continues: “the “olive oil” is shipped around the world, to countries like the US, where approximately 69% of the olive oil for sale is doctored”. Do you get it now? This explains why you can find so many inexpensive “Extra Virgin” “Olive Oils” on the shelves of your supermarket.Victor Hazan Gustiamo

While we leave it to the authorities to deal with the legal issues of this fraud (and hopefully, reduce/eliminate it), what should you do? Take the word of Victor Hazan who is a planetary authority on Italian food. In his comment about this article on Facebook, Victor says: “…What to do: Don’t buy so-called extra virgin Italian olive oil off a supermarket shelf. Don’t expect bargains. Look for a reliable, well-informed supplier such as Gustiamo.com. …”

Grazie a tutti (bad guys excluded)! Finalmente!!!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes, sadly, it’s old news. But same for other adulterated Italian products–imported pasta, fake Italian cheeses and salumi, canned tomatoes. As we know “Made in Italy” is no guarantee of authenticity.

  2. Emily Winters says:

    One has to read the labels verrrrry carefully. Put those glasses on! Packages of pasta with a great sounding Italian name, then, in teeny weeny print: “Made in Mexico.” I only eat porcini that my best friend sends to me from Italy. There’s a great Italian deli in Scottsdale called DeFalco’s. Lot’s of stuff you usually don’t find. When I asked to see the porcini, the plastic container read: “Product of Korea.” (Anyway, when I saw the container I knew it wasn’t from Italy). So, bottom line, buy from a reputable source – like Gustiamo!!! E Buon Appetito!

  3. pacepuleo@aol.com says:

    Dear, Mr. Blechman, just finished reading your article “extra virgin suicide” , yes, in Italy we are aware of this fraud, so what do we do? read the label, if it is not conspicuously marked 100% Italiano, then it’s not Italian, even then you must rely upon the reputation of the producer. A few years ago the same fraud existed with canned tomatoes, the labels looked Italian, the words were in the Italian language but the tomatoes were from China. When I was in the US, I saw a package of Barilla dry pasta, it was labeled “Italy’s #1 pasta”( or a similar phrase ) reading the label I discovered that it was a product of the US, doesn’t make it bad, just not Italian

    Chef Pace, Milano Italia
    pacepuleo@aol.com

  4. Stef Rigotti says:

    Hi,
    The problem of misrepresented olive oils is eveywhere even here in SA. But teh NYT article is full of generalities and unsubstantiated opinions makin it sound like anything labelled Italian Olive Oil is fraudulent. Bad and defamatory reporting as usual with no recourse. Is that typically US?
    So by all means keep your Californian olive oil (from originaly Italian farmers?)

    1. beatrice ughi says:

      Ciao Stef, grazie for writing!
      The situation in America is much worse than the one lamented by the NYTimes and more than 69% of “Italian EVOO” is fake, in this country, in my opinon. I do not much care about Olive Oils from California. I care about the honest Italian farmers who are forced to abandon their land because they can’t compete with the ridiculous low prices of “fake” oil. If the authorities do not stop this, say goodbye to the Bel Paese!
      Ciao e grazie ancora.

  5. Carlo Merolli says:

    It would be “by the book” if anonymous bad guys buy oli from Tunisia and sell it under an Italian label. That’s what bad guys do. Amen. But when a firm like De Cecco who stands (should stand ?) for some very good agroindustral pasta flogs extra virgin olive oli from “countries in the European Community” under its own De Cecco all-Italian label, well that’s really bad. That it is legal, makes it even worse.

  6. pacepuleo@aol.com says:

    I buy De Cecco brand pasta but when I see olive oil bottled under the De Cecco brand, I stop and think are they reallly in the Olive Oil businees? I think not, they are totaly deverse businnesses, shame on you De Cecco, do what you do best, BASTA

  7. Msimone says:

    If you want be sure of buy italian product select the product with the “dop” label. “Dop” is the italian certificate of guarantee (Controlled Designation of Origin). I have found this link for more detail:
    http://italialicious.blogspot.it/2008/10/dop-and-doc-what.html

    Another thing regarding evoo and other food products. If you want quality have to spend more. Consider that in Italy the man power cost is 30% higher than USA, pick up the olive from the trees manually cost a lot and you can’ t pay for an autenthic italian evoo more less than 13$/LITRE.
    For the pasta De Cecco and Barilla are commercial brand is not the top of the quality if you want the quality buy craft pasta that cost usually exactly the double of commercial pasta.

    1. Eddie says:

      Grazie Daniel! We’ll be sure to share with more people.

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