Fake Organic Olive Oil is Latest Food Scam in Israel

fake olive oil test

The food industry is anything but shaky around the world these days, from meat glue to horse meat in “beef” burgers. Who are we to trust? The latest scandal is fake olive found in Israel, including organic varieties. Watch out for it anywhere. We sum up where to buy, and what to avoid. Some varieties sold are not made for human consumption

An Israeli watchdog TV show is good at uncovering scandals. They’ve found toxins in ceramic coated cookware, and slaughterhouse cruelty. Now, Kolbotek a consumer watchdog TV show found on Channel 10 began its 2013 season with a bang by revealing some unpleasant findings about olive oil being manufactured in Israel. Some of the olive oil being sold on the Israeli market is unfit for human consumption. We can assume the issue is more or less the same in other Middle East countries where testing standards are less developed. American sources have suggested that about 70 percent of virgin olive oil is a fake.

The program covered various types and grades of olive oil including that being marketed by companies that virgin and extra virgin olive oil, including organic varieties.

Kolbotek sent 15 olive oil samples for testing at a special laboratory, Kemi Service, that included 9 bottles of oil from one company EVO Israel Ltd.

EVO distributes its products to well known natural and whole foods stores in Israel. The company was reported to have imported more than 44 tons of olive oil from Spain, which is one of the world’s largest olive oil exporters.

September 2012, a company working with EVO and located in the northern Galilee town of  Rosh Pina, Chosen Galil Industries, was found to have larges amounts of this oil that was not for human consumption after lab reports came in.

By this time, more than 20 tons of this oil had already been sold, according to Kolbotek.

kolbotek's Rafi Ginat Kolbotek’s Rafi Ginat tells it like it is

Although in Hebrew, this link of the Kolbotek program is none-the-less revealing enough:

When asked what they thought about these events, Yigal Friedman, a food quality engineer for the Ministry of Defense said “I don’t have an answer to these allegations.”

Another official, Shai Chen Institute manager for the Health Ministry, replied: “I don’t know what to say.”

When Green Prophet tried to contact EVO’s offices in Tiberius, a recorded message from the Bezeq telephone company said that the number is no longer in service.

To indicate the scope of the laboratory findings, of 15 samples tested, 13 were found to  have much higher levels of mono saturated fats and stearic acids than is acceptable, with an average level of 8 times the acceptable amount of mono saturated fats and 6 times the accepted level of stearic acid.

Print this sheet and take it with you to the supermarket:

Some of Israel’s most well known stores including the Eden Teva Market whole foods chain, and the Rami Levi discount supermarket chain. Both were found to be selling EVO’s lab failed olive oil, under such brands as Gaya, Gaya Organic, Adama and Kedmah Hagalil.

Brands of olive oil that did pass laboratory inspection include “Zita” olive oil, distributed by the Wissotzky Tea CompanyEtz HaZait (Shemen Industries Ltd), Sh Sol (a “house brand” from the Shufer Sol supermarket chain), Meshek Ahiya (in the West Bank); and Yad Mordechai, distributed by the Strauss Group.

What was perhaps the most disturbing findings were of “gephet” olive oil, made from olive residues and supposedly designated for use only for soap or cosmetics. In September, 2012, a large quantity of this oil, not suitable for human consumption, was found in EVO’s Chosen production company.

So much for ‘store bought’ olive oil. What was found to be offered by various local restaurants and coffee shops is no less disturbing.

Kolbotek’s investigators checked selected branches of chains such as Cafe Cafe, Cafe Greg and Aroma Cafe and Expresso Bar and found the following:

Cafe Cafe’s Beach branch in Herzlia Petuach served a mixture of what appeared to be canola and soya oil as olive oil.

Cafe Greg at the Tel Aviv Port , also what appeared to be a mixture of canola and soya oil. Their branch at the Rehovot Mall, however, serves real olive oil.

Aroma’s branch at the Hadera Gate Mall has what appears to be an inferior grade of non-virgin olive oil.

Another Aroma branch, in Netanya, also serves a lesser non-virgin type of olive oil.

As a result of Kolbotek’s investigations, some changes have occurred. The Rami Levi chain discontinued to stock the Gaya olive oil brands distributed by EVO. The chain’s branches were given orders to remove these brands from their shelves.

This goes for the Adamah brand of oil as well. As for EVO, they have rejected Kolbotek’s findings and their lawyer rejected all accusations against them. The Israeli Health Ministry notes that although EVO oils failed lab tests,  the ministry insists that not all findings are forbidden for health reasons.

A total recall request was not made by the ministry; but it did note that new testing would be required. A court case  instigated by EVO was heard in the city of Nazareth; and the judge ruled that products distributed by EVO and Chosen Galil Industries Ltd are unfit for consumption.

A spot check at the Eden Teva store in Netanya confirmed that the brands like Gaya, Adama and Kidmat Hagalil distributed by EVO and Chosen Galil had been removed from stock.

“These brands were being sold at lower prices,” said the stock manager, who declined to be identified. He did not give Green Prophet an answer as to whether the store chain was aware of the type of olive oil that these companies had been distributing.

This latest watchdog report on olive oil follows on the heals of an earlier Kolbotek program involving alleged poisonous metals being found in ceramic cookware being produced by companies producing cookware brands such as Neoflam.

Neoflam, a Korean based company, later sued Kolbotek and the network which ran the program for allegedly giving false information regarding the toxic metals and other materials being used in the cookware they produce. The results of which have not been reported.

Taking all of this into account the time-worn saying Cavaet Emptor (let the buyer beware) holds true in this case for sure.

Read more on food related issues uncovered by Kolbotek:
Israel’s Cruel Meat Industry Exposed by Watchdog TV Show
Ceramic Coated Cooking Pans May be Killing You With Color
Neoflam Ceramic Pans Are Allegedly Carcinogenic, Causing Panic in Israel

Image of testing oil from Shutterstock

 

2 thoughts on “Fake Organic Olive Oil is Latest Food Scam in Israel

  1. Maurice

    Also, Professor Shimn Lavi, a Senior Investigator for the Ministry of Agriculture, says that quality olive oil must have a label from the Israel Plant Board (which he says is the closest thing to an actual authority for certifying products like olive oil). He says that real organic olive oil has a green certification label n the shape of an olive”.
    Non-organic oil has a red label to certify it as a lesser non-organic quality, but still of a good consumer quality.

    Reply
  2. Maurice

    Just to set things straight, when I checked the Eden Teva market in Netanya and was told that the olive oil brands in question had been removed from all the Eden stores. So if any readers see otherwise (in other Eden Teva stores) please advise.

    Reply

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