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One-Third of Olive Oils Sold in Canada Don't Meet Quality Standards

Lab tests have revealed that one-third of olive oils for sale in Canada do not meet quality standards, according to a report citing chemical analyses by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Apr. 10, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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A Canadian tele­vi­sion show has reported that one-third of olive oils for sale in Canada don’t meet the qual­ity stan­dards set by the International Olive Council (IOC).

The tele­vi­sion show, L’epicerie, which is broad­cast by the French lan­guage ser­vice of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), ran the seg­ment in March on olive oil qual­ity.

Researchers for the pro­gram obtained infor­ma­tion avail­able to con­sumers under the Access to Information Act on the results of chem­i­cal analy­ses of olive oil sam­ples con­ducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Ottawa, the Canadian cap­i­tal.

After pour­ing over 1,000 pages of doc­u­ments, they learned that 33 per­cent of sam­ples ana­lyzed by the CFIA did not meet qual­ity stan­dards due to adul­ter­ation or mis­la­bel­ing.

The offi­cial lab reports dis­closed that large amounts of other types of veg­etable oils were detected in sam­ples. During the show, a sci­en­tist from the inspec­tion agency con­firmed that a lab analy­sis of olive oil sam­ples showed that they con­tained traces of sun­flower oil.

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Other sam­ples that were not in con­for­mance with inter­na­tional stan­dards had been adul­ter­ated with other veg­etable oils like canola and wrongly labeled as extra virgin olive oil, or were found to be rancid or past their sell-by date. Some of the adul­ter­ated brands exposed on the show included Caruso by ItalCan, and Villa Toscanella by Simon & Nolan.

Over a period of ten years, the CFIA tested 550 olive oil sam­ples from 140 dif­fer­ent brands, with 44 brands found to fall short of qual­ity stan­dards. CFIA’s lab­o­ra­tory is the only one in Canada cer­ti­fied by the IOC to con­duct olive oil analy­ses.

The names of food prod­ucts not meet­ing qual­ity stan­dards are pub­lished on Health Canada’s web­site, and the com­pa­nies at fault were given a dead­line to rec­tify the prob­lem and comply with require­ments or risk penalty. But unfor­tu­nately, the CFIA does not have the resources to retest the prod­ucts that were deemed to fall short of stan­dards.

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