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UC Davis report questions olive oil's virginity

July 15, 2010 | 10:35 am

More than two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren't what they claim to be, according to a report by researchers at UC Davis.

The findings, which come as the federal government rolls out new standards aimed at cleaning up what has long been a slippery business, highlight mounting concerns over labeling accuracy for olive oil in the U.S.

But in some ways the results were as complicated as the business itself. Some brands had samples that failed in all three geographical locations: Different lots of Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil -- purchased at Safeway locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Bel Air grocery store in Sacramento – fell short, according to the report.

Samples of Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Value 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil met the standards from product purchased at a store in Santa Clarita, but failed in those bought in Sacramento and Berkeley locations. Wal-Mart’s Great Value 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil met standards in samples from West Sacramento and the Bay Area, but not from Santa Clarita.

To read more about the report, the companies' reactions and the issues underlying this slippery business, check out this story.

--P.J. Huffstutter

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