` Trade Group Sues Olive Oil Producer for Deceptive Labeling

N. America

Trade Group Sues Olive Oil Producer for Deceptive Labeling

Feb. 7, 2013
By Nancy Flagg

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In its first-ever legal action against an olive oil com­pany, the North Amer­i­can Olive Oil Asso­ci­a­tion (NAOOA) is suing the mak­ers of the Cap­a­triti brand of oil. The civil law­suit, filed on Feb­ru­ary 6, claims that The Gourmet Fac­tory falsely sells oil that is chem­i­cally extracted from left­over olive skins and pits as 100% Pure Olive Oil.”

Through its unlaw­ful, mis­lead­ing and decep­tive mis­brand­ing,” the NAOOA claims that the pub­lic is unknow­ingly con­sum­ing low qual­ity pomace oil. Olive pomace oil is high in fatty acids, must undergo sev­eral refine­ment processes to make it fit for human con­sump­tion and does not meet the legal def­i­n­i­tion of olive oil, accord­ing to the com­plaint action.

In addi­tion, the NAOOA com­plaint states that The Gourmet Fac­tory, owned by Kan­gadis Food, Inc. is engag­ing in unfair com­pe­ti­tion. Adul­ter­ated oil can be man­u­fac­tured at sub­stan­tially lower cost than authen­tic olive oil and by mis­la­bel­ing their oil as 100% Pure Olive Oil, the com­pany is able to under­cut legit­i­mate pro­duc­ers, says the NAOOA.

The com­pany engages in adul­ter­ation for eco­nomic gain,” alleged NAOOA Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent Eryn Balch.

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The NAOOA first took inter­est in the Cap­a­triti brand when it observed sig­nif­i­cant price dis­crep­ancy in recent months,” said Balch. The law­suit doc­u­ments state that Capatriti’s 100% Pure Olive Oil” sells for one-third to one-half the prices authen­tic olive oil pro­duc­ers charge.

The asso­ci­a­tion hired an inde­pen­dent third-party to col­lect sam­ples for test­ing by an Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil lab in Spain. The lab results showed that the sam­ples were at best, some type of pomace and, at worst, may also con­tain seed oils,” accord­ing to the com­plaint doc­u­ment.

The doc­u­ment fur­ther claims that pass­ing off pomace oil as pure olive oil is not some­thing that can be done by acci­dent or through mere neg­li­gence” and that the Gourmet Fac­tory intends to deceive con­sumers into pur­chas­ing its adul­ter­ated edi­ble oil prod­ucts.”

The Cap­a­triti brand accounts for more than 15 per­cent of the olive oil mar­ket in New York, New Jer­sey, Con­necti­cut and other states, accord­ing to the NAOOA. The law­suit asks that the com­pany be pro­hib­ited from label­ing and sell­ing its pomace or other non-olive oils as olive oil” and seeks statu­tory dam­ages on behalf of its mem­bers.

The NAOOA is a trade asso­ci­a­tion rep­re­sent­ing olive oil mar­keters, pack­agers and importers.

Kan­gadis Foods, Inc. owner, George Igna­tiadis, was con­tacted for com­ment about the law­suit, but he said that he was not aware of it.

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