Equally getting short shrift from the people sharing false information about an alleged “Bertolli olive oil fake” is the fact that UC Davis produced a second report the following year, entitled “Evaluation of Extra Virgin Olive Oil Sold in California”. It was an attempt to fix the problems of the original study.

Here are the facts from the sequel to the study you likely didn’t hear about:

In the July 2010 study, the IOC standards for FAP, PV and ∆K tests were not useful in confirming negative sensory results.

Only 52 samples in total were tested. They were only sourced in California, from a few stores across the state. This was hardly representative of the whole of the extra virgin olive oil business.

The same problem regarding industry funding remains in place, as well as the other flaws in the report detailed in the previous section.

Here’s a synopsis of the second fake olive oil report:

70 percent of the samples from the five top-selling imported brands failed the German/Australian 1,2-diacylglycerol content (DAGs) test and 50 percent failed the German/Australian pyropheophytin (PPP) test. All of the 18 samples of the California brand passed the DAGs test and 89 percent of the samples passed the PPP test. The Italian premium brand failed the DAGs and PPP tests in about one-third of the samples. The Australian brand passed the DAGs test in all cases and failed the PPP test in all cases. The results are even more inconsistent than the original report.

And the IOC reaction was:

“Both reports have the same evident undercurrent of aggressive, inexplicable criticism of imported olive oil quality. ” The IOC Reaction on the 2nd UC Davis Oil Report

The IOC added that, in 2005-2006, its chemists advised against the testing methods used by UC Davis because they considered them flawed.


The “14 fake olive oil companies” story began to spread, and continues to do so today, despite the fact that the study has been thoroughly discredited.

This is almost entirely the result of the rise of clickbait. Mercenary online outfits – most of them registered in Macedonia – who run clickbait websites where browser visits are monetized began picking up the story and spreading its sensationalist (and untrue) content, hoping to mislead social media users into thinking they were being offered a devastating expose of food-industry shenanigans (The city getting rich from fake news).

Keep in mind that behavioral research, including one study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has found that fake news is 70 percent more likely to be shared than is authentic news. Lies have always, often, seemed more interesting than the truth.

Now we have a headline that’s bound to raise eyebrows among health-conscious consumers – “The 14 Fake Olive Oil Brands You Should Avoid” – and there’s even accompanying imagery implying this must be a very dire situation indeed. People are reading the story on the clickbait sites and endlessly sharing or re-tweeting it among their friends and followers.

So we knew now we needed to bulk up our defense. We had to stop this from multiplying and spreading further.

Well, the Internet, as we all know, is often little more than the Wild West and the Whack-a-Mole game combined. You go after one site, and another one pops up somewhere else, and anyway, in the latter stages honestly believing the story to be genuine.

Like any good company or any reasonable individual, we know of course that there’s always room to improve. That’s why we’re constantly looking for ways to develop, to help us make and market award winning products and foster transparency on which our customers can rely.

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