Trade Group Sues 'Dr. Oz' for Statements About Imported Olive Oil

The suit filed today in Georgia by the trade group that represents the largest American importers and bottlers challenges Oz on what it calls his “false attacks” on imported olive oils.

Dr. Oz
Nov. 29, 2016
By Olive Oil Times Staff
Dr. Oz

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The tele­vi­sion physi­cian known as Dr. Oz, who falsely declared to his mil­lions of view­ers that the best way to tell if olive oil was good or not was to see if it con­gealed in the refrig­er­a­tor has been sued by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) for claim­ing dur­ing a show that aired last May that 80 per­cent of the extra vir­gin olive oil sold in U. S. super­mar­kets isn’t real.”

His false and care­less words have dis­cour­aged mil­lions of peo­ple from using a prod­uct with sci­en­tif­i­cally demon­strated advan­tages.- Eryn Balch, NAOOA

The suit filed today in Georgia by the trade group that rep­re­sents the largest American importers and bot­tlers chal­lenges Oz on what it calls false attacks” he made on the show that sin­gled out imported olive oils, accord­ing to a press release.

Specifically, the NAOOA said, the prob­lems with Oz’s state­ments were:

  • His 80 per­cent claim is patently false and com­pletely unsourced; 
  • He relies on a sub­jec­tive, taste-dri­ven sen­sory test when only a sci­en­tific chem­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory test can deter­mine if olive oil is pure; and 
  • Oz failed to dis­close that his expert,” Maia Hirschbein, was on the pay­roll of California Olive Ranch, which has a finan­cial inter­est in pro­mot­ing California olive oil and dis­parag­ing olive oil orig­i­nat­ing out­side the state.

Rigorous, peer-reviewed sci­en­tific research has con­sis­tently shown that all types of olive oil have sig­nif­i­cant health ben­e­fits, includ­ing reduc­ing heart dis­ease,” said Eryn Balch, exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the NAOOA. This case is par­tic­u­larly trou­bling because in many pre­vi­ous con­tro­ver­sies Dr. Oz has rec­om­mended prod­ucts with no proven ben­e­fits, but in this case his false and care­less words have dis­cour­aged mil­lions of peo­ple from using a prod­uct with sci­en­tif­i­cally demon­strated advantages.”

In 2013, Oz told view­ers to test the qual­ity of their olive oil by putting it in the refrig­er­a­tor to see if it con­gealed. The method was soon debunked as a myth by researchers at the University of California at Davis Olive Center.

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Oz has fre­quently come under fire from his peers in the med­ical pro­fes­sion. A study pub­lished in the British Medical Journal on Oz’s med­ical advice found that more than half of his rec­om­men­da­tions had no sci­en­tific sup­port, or con­tra­dicted sci­en­tific evi­dence outright.

In April 2015, a group of ten physi­cians from across the United States, includ­ing Henry Miller, a fel­low in sci­en­tific phi­los­o­phy and pub­lic pol­icy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute, sent a let­ter to Columbia University call­ing Oz’s fac­ulty posi­tion unac­cept­able. They accused Oz of an egre­gious lack of integrity by pro­mot­ing quack treat­ments and cures in the inter­est of per­sonal finan­cial gain.”

Georgia has food libel laws with a lower legal bur­den than tra­di­tional libel laws of other states mak­ing it eas­ier for food com­pa­nies to sue peo­ple who make dis­parag­ing remarks about their products.

The law­suit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court by the NAOOA. Additional named defen­dants include Entertainment Media Ventures Inc. d/b/a Oz Media and Zoco Productions LLC. 

This is a devel­op­ing story. Check back for updates.

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