Consumers Beware: Olive Oils May Contain Allergens!

by Kathleen Reale

Dairy Free Nut Free Fish Free Soy Free Gluten Free 

Three cheers to the states of Connecticut and California, which are currently the only two states in the nation to enact standards to protect the purity in olive oil.

Lab tests from olive oils purchased from supermarket shelves in Connecticut found that peanut, soy and hazelnut oils were detected, which put the wheels in motion at the Connecticut consumer protection office. The State of Connecticut was the first state to set quality standards for olive oil sold in their state in November of 2008, with California following suit in January 2009.

For all consumers this law prevents them from purchasing sub-standard products from manufacturers trying unjustifiably to increase profits.

However, these sub-standard, tainted olive oils run the risk of cutting more than just corners and quality. For those 12 million people in the United States that have food allergies - 90% of them including eggs, milk, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts – lives and the quality of lives run the risk of being cut.

“It could be a fatal event,” said Jerry Farrell Jr., Connecticut’s consumer protection commissioner. “At the very least, even if your allergies are mild, you’re going to be sick from what you eat.” The Connecticut’s consumer protection office received no reports of deaths from the adulterated olive oils, although they did receive a number of reports of adverse reactions.

What steps should those with food allergies and intolerances take to avoid these adulterated olive oils? Following are a few important points to follow:

- Beware of deals that are “too good to be true”. Avoid those olive oils that are priced far, far cheaper than the rest. If the deal seems outlandish – it probably is.

- Pick up the Phone! Those with allergies should not hesitate to pick up the phone and call olive oil manufacturers and ask about their quality assurance standards.

- BYO EVOO. Yes folks, this stands for “Bring Your Own Extra Virgin Olive Oil”. Many companies, such as Catania USA, who adheres to strict quality assurance standards far exceeding industry standards (, make 1.75 ounce bottles of extra-virgin and infused oils that are great for stashing in a purse or bag. These are a must have for those with food allergies and intolerances that often use olive oil on their salads and for flavoring while eating at restaurants.

- The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease… or in this case allergen-free olive oil! Pick up your phone, or write to your state's consumer protection department and voice your concerns over this issue.

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