How can you tell if olive oil is fake?

Created on 27th Jul 2019

Perfect Provenance is one of Pomora's key beliefs - it's important to know exactly what is in your food and from where it came*. Detecting fake or adulterated olive oil can be challenging, but there are some general guidelines and tests you can perform to help assess the authenticity and quality of the olive oil you have. Bear in mind that these methods are not foolproof, and for the most accurate information, it's recommended to purchase olive oil from reputable producers and retailers (like Pomora!).

Here are some tips to see if your olive oil is fake:

Check the Label
Look for specific information on the label, such as the region of origin, the type of olives used, and the harvest date. Reputable producers often provide transparent details about their products. All Pomora tins have this information.

Look for certifications from reputable organizations, such as the International Olive Council (IOC) or local quality standards. These certifications indicate that the olive oil has met certain quality and authenticity standards. The Pomora growers, Antonio and Carmelo, have both won awards.

Taste and Smell
Authentic extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) should have a distinct flavour profile, including fruity, peppery, and sometimes bitter notes. If the oil tastes rancid, flat, or lacks flavour, it may not be of high quality. Similarly, genuine EVOO should have a fresh and characteristic aroma. Please see How do you taste Olive Oil?.

While colour alone is not a definitive indicator, high-quality extra virgin olive oil often has a vibrant golden-green colour. However, the colour can vary based on factors like the type of olives used and their ripeness at the time of harvesting. For example, Carmelo's olive oil is grown on the foothills of Mt. Etna with it's volcanic soil therefore giving the olive a deep green colour. In contrast, Antonio's olive oil come from the rolling countryside hills of Campania, presenting a more vibrant green colour.

Storage Instructions
Authentic olive oil is sensitive to light, air and heat. If the product is stored in clear glass containers or exposed to excessive light and heat in the store, it may affect the quality of the oil. Please see How do you store Olive Oil?.

Sediment Test
Genuine extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, may contain some sediment, which is a natural part of the olive fruit. If the oil appears completely clear and free of any particles, it might be an indication that it has been excessively processed or refined. For more information on the production process, please see How is Olive Oil made?.

Refrigeration Test
Authentic extra virgin olive oil may solidify or become cloudy when stored in the refrigerator due to the presence of monounsaturated fats. Keep in mind that some high-quality olive oils may not exhibit this trait, so it's not a foolproof test. We also do not recommend keeping olive oil in a refrigerator.

While not a definitive indicator, excessively low prices may be a red flag. If it's too good to be true, it probably is! High-quality extra virgin olive oil, like Pomora olive oil, requires careful cultivation, harvesting, and pressing, and this is reflected in the price.

Tin / Bottle Design
Some counterfeit products mimic the packaging of well-known brands. Familiarize yourself with the packaging of reputable brands to avoid falling for imitations. Pomora tins have a vibrant and unique design.

Buy from Reputable Sources
Purchase olive oil from reputable producers, retailers, or specialty stores. Establishing a relationship with a trusted source can increase the likelihood of obtaining authentic products.

Remember that these methods are not foolproof, and the best way to ensure the authenticity of your olive oil is to purchase from reputable sources and brands that adhere to high-quality standards.

*The Pomora growers, Antonio and Carmelo, keep sufficient records to allow us to trace our olive oil all the way back to the grove.