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.