Olive oils

After reading the UC Davis report on mislabeled extra-virgin olive oil, angry California chefs have filed a class-action lawsuit against companies whose products failed the “virginity test.”

At press time, 10 major producers and distributors have been named in the suit:

  1. Bertolli
  2. Carapelli
  3. Colavita
  4. Filippo Berio
  5. Mazola
  6. Mezzetta
  7. Pompeian
  8. Rachael Ray
  9. Safeway Select 
  10. Star

Several of these companies sell organic varieties.

Other defendants include markets that have sold these brands “without testing and verifying” oil quality: Bristol Farms, Gelson’s, Vons/Pavilions, Ralphs, Stater Bros., Albertson’s, Target, Walmart, Kmart and Nob Hill Foods.

“This is an egregious fleecing of the California consumer,” says lead counsel Daniel J. Callahan. “These companies placed corporate profiteering over their integrity and the integrity of their product.”

Callahan believes these companies “have been knowingly misleading and defrauding California consumers for years.

“Defendants have been claiming the olive oil they sell meets the high standard of the extra-virgin classification,” he says, noting that chefs’ menu prices have reflected use of the real deal.

Some chefs and consumers have reportedly said over the years that their extra-virgin olive oils simply don’t taste right—and “it  has now become clear that these tales were based in fact,” Callahan says.

Olive oil is a kitchen staple for most organic home cooks, especially those who follow a Mediterranean diet. It’s a monounsaturated fat that should replace unhealthful saturated fats.