Olive oil fraud denounced

One of the brands inspected wasn’t even olive oil, reveals DECO

A case of fraud and several labelling irregularities involving five olive oil brands were denounced by consumer watchdog DECO following a study into 25 brands sold in Portugal. The food standards authority is investigating the case.

According to DECO, analyses conducted by the association revealed that five brands, Alfandagh, Auchan (DOP Moura), É, Grão Mestre and Naturfoods-Azeite Biológico, either contain other refined vegetable oils that do not originate from the olive or are wrongly labelled as “extra virgin olive oil”.

In the case of the Alfandagh oil, it is branded as “extra-virgin olive oil”, when, according to DECO, it isn’t even olive oil as it is made from “refined vegetable oils that do not originate from the olive”.

The study found that the other four brands are labelled as “extra virgin olive oil”, but do not comply with the legal requisites to be called that.

“The brands Auchan (DOP Moura), É, Grão Mestre and Naturfoods, Azeite Biológico, should be branded simply as ‘virgin oil’,” said DECO.

ASAE, the official body responsible for the investigation, has since stated that in the case of these four brands, it will “take the necessary measures to correct the information available to consumers”.

DECO has however called for the five “fraudulent” brands to be removed from supermarket shelves and for inspection of this type of products to be stepped up. It believes the authorities need to inspect all stages of production, from the olive press factory to the supermarket.

In an official statement by the ASAE, the authority stated that since the beginning of the year it has analysed 46 olive oil brands and of those eight were found to be fraudulently marketed.

Five criminal lawsuits have thus been launched for food fraud following an investigation that led to a total of 11 judicial cases. However, ASAE says it cannot reveal the names of the brands but has assured that the products do not pose a health risk, “as these cases are exclusively related to economic fraud or deficient consumer information”.

During its investigation it seized a total of 33,470 litres of oil amounting to a value of €90,000 and including 227,850 labels.

Dulce Ricardo from DECO told Expresso newspaper that she does not know whether the fraudulent brands detected by ASAE include the five brands denounced by the consumer watchdog.

Best rated brands

According to the DECO study, which was published in its September edition of the Proteste magazine, the best olive oils currently on the market are Dia Clássico (Minipreço) and Gallo Clássico, scoring the highest points in an extended list of criteria.

Priced at around €2.29, these olive oils are €5 cheaper than other worse rated olive oils that claim higher quality standards, revealed the study.