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Olive Oil Fraud Rampant as Demand Skyrockets

Italian extra-virgin olive oil has become so lucrative that adulterated olive oil has become the biggest source of agricultural fraud problems in the European Union.

Some oil labeled "extra-virgin" is diluted with cheaper olive oils or other vegetable oils. In some cases, lampante, or "lamp oil," which is made from spoiled olives fallen from trees, is used, even though it can't legally be sold as food. One fraud ring is accused of coloring low-grade soy oil and canola oil with industrial chlorophyll, and flavoring it with beta-carotene.

The FDA doesn't routinely test imported olive oil for adulteration, and some products are difficult to test.


New Yorker contributor Tom Mueller near Genova, Italy, talks with Michele Norris about fraud in the olive oil industry.

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