N. America

U.S. Congress Directs FDA to Test Imported Olive Oils

The U.S. House Agricultural Committee directed the FDA to look into creating a sampling and testing system for imported oils and to report back to Congress on its findings.

Apr. 21, 2016
By Wendy Logan

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The House Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee decided on Tues­day to take steps to address olive oil fraud in the U.S. as appro­pri­a­tors work­ing on the new Fis­cal Year 2017 FDA spend­ing bill called for tests on all imported olive oil.

The com­mit­tee’s report stated, The com­mit­tee is con­cerned with reports that con­sis­tently describe the preva­lence of adul­ter­ated and fraud­u­lently labeled olive oil imported into the United States and sold to Amer­i­can con­sumers.”

The com­mit­tee cited pub­lic health as an addi­tional tar­get of the pro­vi­sion and directed the FDA to look into cre­at­ing a sam­pling and test­ing sys­tem for imported oils and to report back to Con­gress on its find­ings. Some prod­ucts labeled as olive oil may con­tain seed oil, which poses a seri­ous health risk to con­sumers who are aller­gic to (it),” it said.

The Com­mit­tee directs the FDA to take a sam­pling of imported olive oil to deter­mine if it is adul­ter­ated or mis­branded, pur­suant to Sec­tion 342 or Sec­tion 343 of the FDCA, respec­tively, and report to Con­gress within 270 days on its find­ings and what actions the FDA will take to ensure con­sumer safety and proper label­ing of imported olive oil.”

The fact that the com­mit­tee’s report specif­i­cally calls for test­ing of imported olive oils sug­gests the action was the result of efforts by domes­tic pro­ducer groups, who have in recent years lob­bied con­gress on sev­eral fronts includ­ing call­ing for an inves­ti­ga­tion by the United States Inter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion, the for­ma­tion of a Cal­for­nia Olive Oil Com­mis­sion and a new set of stan­dards for domes­tic prod­ucts that many see as a pre­cur­sor to restric­tions on imported oils that cur­rently account for more than 95 per­cent of olive oil con­sumed in the United States.