`Congressman Declares Olive Oil in New York 'Not Rancid'

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Congressman Declares Olive Oil in New York 'Not Rancid'

Jun. 20, 2013
Curtis Cord

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Before the United States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives defeated the Farm Bill Wednes­day, con­gres­sional mem­bers debated, among other things, an amend­ment to strike a pro­vi­sion from the bill that would impose new restric­tions on imported olive oils.

In the end, the amend­ment to remove the olive oil pro­vi­sion from the bill passed over­whelm­ingly, hours before the Farm Bill itself was struck down in a par­ti­san vote that drew sharp crit­i­cism.

The con­tro­ver­sial pro­vi­sion stated that, if a U.S. mar­ket­ing order were to be adopted for domes­tic olive oil pro­duc­ers, imported olive oils would need to meet the same stan­dards set forth in the mar­ket­ing order — and they’d need to take var­i­ous steps to prove it.

On the same day the Yan­kees met the Dodgers in Los Ange­les for a dou­ble header (which they split 1 – 1) rep­re­sen­ta­tives from New York faced off on the House floor with their col­leagues from Cal­i­for­nia over olive oil.

Notwith­stand­ing stud­ies show­ing how lit­tle aver­age Amer­i­cans know about olive oil stan­dards and qual­ity, at least one mem­ber of Con­gress had the con­fi­dence Wednes­day to declare the state of olive oil excel­lence across his dis­trict.

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Michael G. Grimm, a Repub­li­can rep­re­sent­ing Brook­lyn and Staten Island, announced to the cham­ber, my con­stituents con­sume more Greek and Ital­ian olive oil than you could ever imag­ine, and it’s not ran­cid.”

Call­ing the olive oil pro­vi­sion a multi-mil­lion-dol­lar ear­mark,” Grimm said dis­trib­u­tors, restau­rants and con­sumers in South­ern New York know good oil, and they haven’t had a prob­lem.” Grimm cited a Con­gres­sional Bud­get Office esti­mate that the import restric­tions would cost busi­nesses tens of mil­lions of dol­lars.”

The pro­duc­ers here are the ones with the prob­lems,” Grimm said, refer­ring to pro­duc­ers in Cal­i­for­nia, Geor­gia and Texas who have been call­ing for a lev­el­ing of the field with importers of sub­si­dized Euro­pean oils that dom­i­nate super­mar­ket shelves and often fail to meet qual­ity stan­dards.

While the New York con­gress­man showed remark­able con­fi­dence in his con­stituents’ knowl­edge of olive oil, a fed­eral judge on the other side of the East River last month gave con­sumers lit­tle chance of know­ing much at all.

In a deci­sion to reject an injunc­tion against an olive oil importer who know­ingly sold refined olive pomace oil as pure,” the US Court of the South­ern Dis­trict of New York in NAOOA v. Kan­gadis Food Inc. found no extrin­sic evi­dence that the per­cep­tions of ordi­nary con­sumers align with these var­i­ous label­ing stan­dards.” In other words, most con­sumers don’t know one grade from another, let alone whether an olive oil is good or not.


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