A lack of federal rules has made the nation the dumping ground for cheap, adulterated and even dangerous oils.
With many consumers in the U.S. becoming ill after consuming "olive oil", the USDA is finally moving to create standards defining what is "virgin olive oil". These are supposed to come out in the fall. Except 'the new rules are voluntary — not mandatory — so the prospect of more slick shenanigans continues'. Meanwhile, the FDA 'which oversees most food-label accuracy issues, said the agency does not regularly test olive oils for adulteration, and that it relies on tips about problems from the public, trade groups and others'.Science
has been uncovering the possible cardiovascular
health benefits of olive oil for a long time now. But there is also cancer
, especially breast
cancer, as well as numerous other conditions, such as ulcerative colitis
The Mayo Clinic has recommended extra virgin olive oil
as having the most health promoting compounds. So you would think that olive oil standards would have been defined in the U.S. a long time ago. Indeed, such efforts
[warning: pdf] go back to 1948. Standards for virgin olive oil have been compared
between U.S. and Australian and New Zealand.
But in the end, in the U.S., whatever the standards adopted, 'companies only have to follow these regulations if their products have the federal seal of approval on their labels, or if retailers buying their oil require it.
"It's like saying you have to stop at stop signs, but there are no cops at the corner," said Paul Vossen, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Sonoma County. "Standards are a good start, but enforcement is important."'