Remember that we once said how corrupted the extra virgin olive oil industry is, with cheap, fake extra virgin olive oil products on sale everywhere? The Canadian Government has had enough of it and decided to clear up the mess. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is now chasing after suppliers and distributors selling substandard extra virgin olive oil as well as recognizing those that produce the good stuff. While dozens of scams were busted, Ilias and Sons became one of the first companies to be validated as a reliable supplier of authentic extra virgin olive oil.
What the press has said about adulterated extra virgin olive oil
CFIA has been long hot on the scent of fake extra virgin olive oil. In 2017, CFIA reported that up to one-third of extra virgin olive oils sold in Canada failed to meet quality standards, according to the Olive Oil Times. But it is not until this year when poor olive harvests were recorded in Italy, Greece and Portugal that efforts to eradicate fraudulent extra virgin olive oil began to pick up steam, large in anticipation of a surge in sales of low-quality oil.
Extreme weather and bacterial diseases severely olive crops in Mediterranean countries, causing harvests to reach a record low. Some farmers claimed that their production decreased by as much as 30 % according to the CTV News. It is even predicted that Italy, known for its extra virgin olive oil abundance, may run out of extra virgin olive oil in April. This is hardly surprising as the country has had the poorest harvest in 25 years. Other major olive-producing countries like Greece and Portugal have also encountered disappointing harvests, adversely affecting the global supply.
As the supply of extra virgin olive oil becomes inadequate, the prices have unsurprisingly soared. The Ottawa Citizen reports that the retail prices of extra virgin olive oil have increased by more than 40 % since last year and that will certainly not be end of it. The shortage of extra virgin olive oil, coupled with bigger profits, has deteriorated the problem of extra virgin olive oil fraud which is already a terrible headache.
Even in 2017 when the possibility of a shortage of extra virgin olive oil was still as remote as Mediterranean food lacking extra virgin olive oil, nearly two thirds of the samples gathered and analyzed across Brazil were found to be misleading. They were all diluted with cheaper oils. But the picture isn’t entirely gloomy everywhere. While Mother Nature has been less than caring, certain regions throughout Mediterranean still had a good harvest this year, mitigating the hike in prices. But the most important factor to keep the prices from skyrocketing is some suppliers’ ability to distribute their products directly to retailers and consumers without having to go through large distributors. Ilias and Sons are proud to be one of them.
As good extra virgin olive oil is increasingly scarce and expensive, unscrupulous producers and distributors now find it even more tempting to sell extra virgin olive oil adulterated with cheaper fats to their customers. CFIA has warned the public of this threat and encouraged customers to be on the lookout for substandard products. A rip-off is not the only danger that fake extra virgin olive oil poses. In an interview with CBC Radio, Aline Dimitri, CFIA deputy chief food safety officer, said that if somebody allergic to peanut used extra virgin olive oil diluted with peanut oil without knowing it, they might suffer from dangerous health problems.
Where CFIA entered to save the day
Against the menace of low-quality extra virgin olive oil flooding the Canadian market, the country’s government has taken a number of measures to combat it. The CFIA has run an extensive investigation to crack down on fraudulent extra virgin olive oil by having agents collect samples from all over Canada and test them. If any extra virgin olive oil sample is found to be unsatisfactory, then the importer or the retailer of the corresponding product can be impelled to relabel or recall it. In addition, the offenders can face prosecution. The agency was given more power to do so in January when the Safe Food for Canadians Act (SFCA) requiring that a seller of food product have full knowledge of the source of the ingredients came into effect.
Customers who suspect that they are using fraudulent extra virgin olive oil can also call CFIA to have it investigated. This is not the first time that agency took a hard line on extra virgin olive oil fraud. It carried out a similar testing program in 2006 which resulted in a significant drop in the sales of fake products. The program was relaunched two years ago which found that one third of the samples fell short of quality standards.
Our proof of truth
We are proud to announce that the Ilias and Sons Extra Virgin olive oil products have been approved for their authenticity. Tests carried out by CFIA rated our samples as satisfactory, which proves that our olive products are authentic and pure. It should be noted that there is no rating scale for the tests as the sample is rated either as Satisfactory or Not Satisfactory, aka Real and Fake. In the end, our products are 100 % real.
In fact, the result came as no surprise because we have long been known as a reliable supplier of excellent extra virgin olive oil. Ilias and Sons was featured in a story in Edible Ottawa, a respected Canadian cuisine magazine. Entitled “Know thy importer”, the story presents how people with ideas and a high-quality standard have challenged the degraded extra virgin olive oil industry. Among the names mentioned is Ilias and Sons.
The story tells how we have defied the corruption of the industry by upholding the family tradition of making oil from our own olive grove back in Greece. We need no middleman as we produce extra virgin olive oil and sell them to customers ourselves. That is how we can control the product quality and ensure that customers only pay for what is worth their money.