Olive oil: watch out for labeling scams

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Labeling scams are commonplace, warns the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF). Malicious companies are taking advantage of summer markets and online sales to sell their fake goods, Le Parisien reports. Olive oil is one of the products that attract the covetousness of crooks, as it is so easy to deceive the consumer about its origin or its composition. Local, organic or luxury products are particularly targeted.

“Each year, new products are put on sale, often linked to new consumption patterns, explains the DGCCRF spokesperson. Between short circuits, bulk or even emerging players, our investigators target their checks”. With good reason: in 2021, 40% of anomaly rates were spotted by agents, or 90 companies accused of false advertising. Warning, fine and minutes are part of the legal action taken after the scam is uncovered.

The DGCCRF cites a few examples to encourage consumers to be more wary. In 2021, a company was pinned for having sold 1,900 bottles of extra-virgin organic olive oil supposedly made in France… but which came from Portugal. As for its 8,000 boxes of extra virgin olive oil from France with white summer truffle juice and white truffle aroma, they actually included broken Italian and Spanish truffles.

Another company is currently being sued for selling bottles of olive oil containing “gold particles” on an online delicatessen. 1,300 consumers succumbed to the attractive design of these supposedly luxurious products. Not enough to impress the DGCCRF, which showed that it was actually a mixture of zinc and copper. “Gold [is] not a permitted additive in olive oil,” the spokesperson for the fraud enforcement body said.

So what is the magic bullet to avoid being the subject of an olive oil scam? Again and again, read the labels carefully and check the reliability of the merchant site. On the markets, customers are invited to question the seller about his products. “You have to be wary of too good deals, advises the DGCCRF. If you see an extra-virgin olive oil at the price of a basic olive oil, it is not normal. And it is also necessary that the labeling is in French.”