Olive oil has become the next victim of possible fraudulent labeling to hit the grocery store shelves. 

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Recently, Italy increased its penalties for olive oil counterfeiting after investigators released details of a massive olive oil fraud. Close to 7,000 tons of extra-virgin olive oil were labeled 100-percent Italian even though they included oil from other countries like Syria, Turkey, Morocco, and Tunisia.

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Extra-virgin olive oil is made by crushing olives and retaining juice. In order to get that designation, the olive oil must be manually pressed and no chemicals can be used. The oil must also maintain its complex flavor profile. The unprocessed and unrefined olive oil is called “virgin” because it is the most pure form.

In 2010, Researchers at the University of California, Davis, published a disturbing study that found that 69 percent of imported extra-virgin olive oil sold in California was falsely labeled. Dan Flynn, the executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center, explains: “we found that often the quality of the olive oil did not meet extra-virgin standards.”

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