`Olive Oil in France Rife with Deception and Fraud, Report Finds

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Olive Oil in France Rife with Deception and Fraud, Report Finds

Feb. 2, 2015
By Alice Alech

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Despite stricter Euro­pean con­trols, the olive oil indus­try in France is still rife with decep­tion and fraud.

In their report released this week, France’s Direc­torate-Gen­eral for Com­pe­ti­tion, Con­sumer Affairs and Fraud Con­trol (DGCCRF) unfolded var­i­ous decep­tive trade prac­tices, while warn­ing con­sumers to be more vig­i­lant when buy­ing olive oil.

After vis­it­ing 348 estab­lish­ments last year, inves­ti­ga­tors iden­ti­fied sev­eral areas of con­cern in regard to the qual­ity, label­ing and mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of olive oils sold in France.

France imports more olive oil than it pro­duces but fraud was preva­lent in both imported and domes­tic prod­ucts.

The report showed that in many cases there was no indi­ca­tion of prove­nance on the labels; the com­pul­sory coun­try of ori­gin was not indi­cated on 8 per­cent of olive oils ana­lyzed.

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The agency found labels that were not in French, incom­plete or out­right false. Many labels lead con­sumers astray, allow­ing them to believe that the oil was pro­duced in France when it was not, or indi­cated a Pro­tected Des­ig­na­tion of Ori­gin (PDO) or Appel­la­tion d’O­rig­ine Con­trôlée (AOC) indis­crim­i­nately.

Only eight regions in France enjoy Appel­la­tion d’O­rig­ine Pro­tégée (AOP) sta­tus which guar­an­tees the geo­graph­i­cal ori­gin and rec­og­nized pro­duc­tion con­di­tions. Inves­ti­ga­tor found labels falsely indi­cat­ing AOC and AOP sta­tus when the oils had not, in fact, been granted the dis­tinc­tion.

Other imper­mis­si­ble claims made on pack­ag­ing included state­ments such as: rich in omega 3, no cho­les­terol and rich in antiox­i­dants.

There were also con­cerns about best-by dates on prod­ucts when pro­duc­ers were unable to pro­vide (Date Lim­ite d’Utilisation Opti­male, or DLUO) suit­able records to jus­tify the dates on the labels.

Out of 143 sam­ples chem­i­cally tested by the Com­mon Ser­vice Lab­o­ra­to­ries (SCL) in Mar­seille:

  • 30 per­cent did not con­form to EU stan­dards
  • 22 per­cent needed to be sur­veyed because of flaws or incon­sis­ten­cies in the prod­uct descrip­tions
  • 43 per­cent failed taste tests for the grade indi­cated

DDCRF found con­tain­ers labeled dried toma­toes in olive oil’ but on exam­i­na­tion were found to con­tain sun­flower oil.

DDCRF advised con­sumers of olive oil to be vig­i­lant, to be skep­ti­cal of less expen­sive olive oil and to con­tact them should they find their olive oil sus­pi­cious.”


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