`Brightland Drops Claims that Most Olive Oils in U.S. Are Adulterated, Rancid - Olive Oil Times

Brightland Drops Claims that Most Olive Oils in U.S. Are Adulterated, Rancid

Dec. 15, 2021
Daniel Dawson

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California-based olive oil mar­keter Brightland has vol­un­tar­ily removed a state­ment from its web­site alleg­ing wide­spread olive oil adul­ter­ation in the United States after the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) filed a com­plaint with an adver­tis­ing watch­dog group.

The NAOOA chal­lenged Brightland’s claim that most of the olive oil sold in the U.S. is rot­ten, ran­cid or adul­ter­ated,” caus­ing nau­sea and stom­ach pains.

Our goal in all of these efforts is to ensure that mis­in­for­ma­tion isn’t used unfairly to either pro­mote or den­i­grate prod­ucts in our indus­try.- Joseph R Profaci, exec­u­tive direc­tor, NAOOA

The claims appeared on Brightland’s web­site, social media pages and online arti­cles in other out­lets about the com­pany and its founder, Aishwarya Iyer.

After I found out that the major­ity of the olive oil Americans con­sume is rot­ten, ran­cid and adul­ter­ated,” Iyer told an online mag­a­zine, Los Angeles Confidential, I wanted to cre­ate a solu­tion that was U.S. made, beau­ti­ful, and authen­tic and that’s how Brightland was born.”

See Also:Five Years Later, UC Davis Report Still Sends Shockwaves

According to the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs, a non-profit, Brightland vol­un­teered to remove the claim from its web­site per­ma­nently. As a result, NAD did not con­duct a review of the verac­ity of the claims.

However, the NAD did deter­mine that Brightland’s claims were unsup­ported and dis­par­aged other olive oils on the mar­ket, rec­om­mend­ing that the claims be removed.


Brightland said that it dis­agreed with NAD’s con­clu­sion but in def­er­ence to the self-reg­u­la­tory process, Brightland has mod­i­fied the lan­guage of the Founder’s Note and will take NAD’s com­ments into account.”

There was no men­tion of mod­i­fy­ing or remov­ing the myr­iad of dis­parag­ing state­ments attrib­uted to Iyer in other media out­lets.

Brightland’s orig­i­nal claim likely stems from a 2011 report from the University of California-Davis that found 73 per­cent of the five top-sell­ing imported extra vir­gin” olive oil brands in the U.S. that were sold in California did not meet the International Olive Council’s stan­dards for extra vir­gin olive oil.

Sensory defects are indi­ca­tors that these sam­ples are oxi­dized, of poor qual­ity and/or adul­ter­ated with cheaper refined oils,” the seven authors wrote.

The report was a fol­low-up to UC Davis’ con­tro­ver­sial 2010 report that found that 69 per­cent of imported olive oil sam­ples and 10 per­cent of California olive oil sam­ples labeled as extra vir­gin olive oil failed to meet IOC stan­dards.

Wide media cov­er­age of the two-part report, which was funded in part by California olive oil pro­duc­ers, largely ignored the lim­ited sam­ple size – 186 olive oils from 20 brands – and instead inferred that the results of the UC Davis study applied to the entire North American mar­ket.

UC Davis has since clar­i­fied that the results of the study should not be used to char­ac­ter­ize the qual­ity or authen­tic­ity of olive oil cur­rently avail­able in California or else­where.”

While esti­mat­ing the actual amount of olive oil adul­ter­ation and mis­la­bel­ing in any mar­ket is very dif­fi­cult and impre­cise, small stud­ies con­ducted in other parts of the coun­try have yielded very dif­fer­ent results.

For exam­ple, a 2015 study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that only three of 88 extra vir­gin olive oil sam­ples taken from Washington, D.C. super­mar­kets failed to meet purity cri­te­ria, indi­cat­ing pos­si­ble adul­ter­ation with com­mod­ity oil and/or sol­vent-extracted olive oil.”

Joseph R. Profaci, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the NAOOA, told Olive Oil Times that he was sat­is­fied with Brightland’s deci­sion to remove the claims from their web­site after years of efforts to refute them.

We’re pleased Brightland vol­un­tar­ily and per­ma­nently agreed to cease mak­ing unsup­ported and false claims about the alleged rot­ten, ran­cid or adul­ter­ated’ qual­ity of olive oil sold to U.S. con­sumers,” he said.

To us, this is an admis­sion that the UC Davis reports from 2010/11 do not sup­port the claims that Brightland was mak­ing, and that there is no other cred­i­ble sup­port they could offer for such sen­sa­tional claims,” Profaci added.

Profaci hopes the deci­sion may serve as a prece­dent to pre­vent other com­pa­nies from prof­it­ing from olive oil mis­in­for­ma­tion.

Brightland is not the only com­pany that makes such claims,” he said. Our goal in all of these efforts is to ensure that mis­in­for­ma­tion isn’t used unfairly to either pro­mote or den­i­grate prod­ucts in our indus­try.”


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