CFIA cracking down on olive oil after bad European olive harvest

Published Feb. 6, 2019 9:49 p.m. ET
Updated Feb. 6, 2019 10:00 p.m. ET
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The Canadian government is cracking down after a bad olive harvest in Europe has brought the quality of olive oil into question.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency warns that a bad year for olive producers may result in an increase in olive oil fraud, but says they're ready to combat it.

"We are telling them – we are paying attention," the CFIA's Aline Dimitri told CTV News. "You should be on notice."

Bad weather, fire, and pests have had a significant damaging effect on the olive crops of southern Europe this year, with some farmers reporting that their production decreased by as much as 30 per cent.

The poor harvest has driven olive oil prices higher, and that's got the CFIA concerned that some producers may be tempted to cheat.

"It's a targeted product because usually it is expensive and often you're dealing with a marketplace that is not overly educated in terms of how olive oil should taste," professor Sylvain Charlebois said. "So it's easy to trick the consumer."

In the past, the CFIA has fined fraudsters for cutting their olive oil with cheaper ingredients like sunflower oil in order to boost profits.

It's not just a shady business practice – the act of cutting oils can be a major concern for allergy sufferers who unknowingly ingest an unlabeled product.

"If this oil that has been added to the olive oil that we are purchasing can cause an allergy for a consumer then for us it becomes a health and safety issue," Dimitri said.

While the CFIA has run spot checks and sampling of larger batches before and found most olive oil on the market is good stock, they're on the hunt again to ensure what people pay for is what ends up on their plates.


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