New Study Says Rachael Ray, Whole Foods' Olive Oil Not Really Extra Virgin

Posted on July 15, 2010

It's a sad day in Rachael Ray land. Her brand of EVOO isn't really EV at all. In fact, it really should be labeled VOO. A new study by the University of California at Davis revealed that 69% of imported olive oils that claim to be extra virgin do not meet those specifications. Whole Foods' olive oil also failed the scientists' tests, as did 10% of the domestic oils tested.

"Consumers, retailers and regulators should really start asking questions," said Dan Flynn, executive director of UC Davis' Olive Oil Center, which conducted the study in partnership with the Australian Oils Research Laboratory, in South Wales.

Funding for the study came in part from California olive oil producers and the California Olive Oil Council, a trade group that works to promote locally produced oils. Although the survey's sample size was relatively small and selected at random - 19 widely distributed brands purchased from retailers in San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and Los Angeles - the study held the claims on their labels to a scientifically verifiable standard, said Flynn.


The "extra-virgin" designation indicates that the oil was extracted without the use of heat or chemicals, is pure, satisfies a taste test and falls within chemical parameters established by the IOC.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon be adopting scientifically verifiable standards for the terms "virgin" or "extra virgin," as they applly to olive oil. The new standards will go into effect in October. The U.S. standards will be similar to those of the International Olive Council.

You can read the entire report in .pdf format here.