Many 'extra virgin' olive oils on the market might not be real deal

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According to a study done at UC Davis, over 80 percent of what consumers find at the grocery store isn't really extra virgin olive oil. (KABC)

According to a study done at UC Davis, over 80 percent of what consumers find at the grocery store isn't really extra virgin olive oil.

"There is no regulation that is held standard in the United States," said David Teig, chef and judge for the Los Angeles International EVOO Competition.

While California has stricter regulations than federal or international ones, those regulations are often not enforced.

"There's dollars involved in enforcement," Teig said.

So, many consumers may be deceived.

"There's a lot of mislabeling going on. They did a study recently, and a majority of olive oils labeled extra virgin oils, they found that were actually blends of olive oil, canola oil and vegetable oil," said Josh Mercurio, spokesperson for the We Olive chain.

Yet it's "extra" virgin olive oil that contains polyphenols and antioxidants.

"Olive oil is essentially a juice. You want fresh juice," reminded Teig.

From pick to press, Teig said it involves a four-to six-month period. But once a consumer opens a bottle, the oil will keep its value for only about one month.

EVOO is the first press of the oil. It can be green, cloudy and smell herbaceous.

Unlike wine, you want your olive oil fresh. In fact, some producers put the harvest date on the label and certification from the California Olive Oil Council.

Also, look for acidity level. In order to be EVOO it must be .05 or less.

Along with checking the harvest date and the certification seal, there's still a handful of things consumers can do to make sure they're getting the best value.

Teig recommends choosing an EVOO packaged in a dark jar.

"In a dark colored glass because sunlight and light breaks down the olive oil, and you want to store it in a cool dry place," said Teig.

Ignore terms like "virgin," "cold pressed," "light olive oil" and "pure oil" - they are all marketing terms that may mean little.

And yes, EVOO costs more, but a Consumer Reports rated Trader Joe's Extra Virgin California Estate Olive Oil as a good inexpensive choice under $10.
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