New measures taken to help identify ‘cheated’ olive oil

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New measures to distinguish authentic olive oil have been agreed on by the Jordan Food and Drug Administration. (Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — We are currently in the olive harvest season in Jordan, and some farmers and olive press owners are afraid of cases of fraud in olive oil. These cases are prevalent every year as an attempt to exploit people’s desires to buy olive oil, usually in large quantities. However, new measures are being taken to make identifying original olive oil easier.اضافة اعلان

Malik Al-Khaled, who has been subjected to fraud in the past, said: “I bought a reasonable amount of olive oil last year, and after a short time, it was found to be fraudulent.”

Olive oil is considered cheated, fraudulent, or adulterated if it is mixed with other substances such as other oils or food coloring. 

Khaled explained that he did not know that this oil was adulterated from the beginning, as he had no experience in examining olive oil and had bought it because of its low price compared to the prices he heard from farmers. 
“I think there is supposed to be a competent authority on the lookout for these people, as they take advantage of our lack of knowledge of the original olive oil and earn illegal money,” he said.

Agricultural engineer and owner of olive farms, Mustafa Abu Qamar, told Jordan News in a phone interview that there are many indications that show the people that the oil they are interested in buying is adulterated. “The biggest and undoubted evidence is the very low price compared to what is offered by the market or olive oil press in particular,” he said.

Abu Qamar added that the color of adulterated olive oil tends to be bright green, as they add colored pigments to the oil so that it appears original. 
According to Abu Qamar, the smell can also reveal the quality of the oil, as adulterated olive oil bears a bad smell similar to that of spoiled food. 

The purity of the oil also plays a role in identifying the quality. For example, olive oil that comes out of the oil presses has residues from the pulp of the olive fruit deposited at the bottom of the tank. However, cheated olive oil appears to be excessively pure, indicating that it is not original.

Farmer Ameer Al-Ghanim shared with Jordan News his concerns about the losses that farmers could suffer due to the cheated oil. “This has a great impact on the farmers, as they are exposed to losses that may reach 100 percent in some cases,” he said. 

“This happens when people are unaware of the difference between original and fake olive oil. Therefore, they tend to buy the lowest-priced oil, which makes our oil accumulate in our homes or in the presses without anyone buying it,” he added.

The vice president of the Jordanian Association of Press Owners and Olive Producers, Tayseer Al-Najdawi, told Jordan News: “In cooperation with the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA), we have agreed to use a specific tank to fill the oil, which holds a thermal seal and a special label of the symbol of the olive tree in Jordan and the name of the press that pressed this oil.”

He also warned locals to be aware of those selling oil outside of presses and emphasized that they should not buy olive oil “except through presses or olive farmers only.”

Najdawi mentioned that these fraud cases occur in all governorates of Jordan, but they are more frequent in the north. 

However, this season, unlike previous seasons, not many cases of fraud were reported. Only two cases were found, and they were dealt with through the JFDA, which confiscated the oil and destroyed it and then referred the owner to the public prosecutor.

“The credit for the decline in the percentage of fraud in olive oil to an almost negligible rate is due to the security and control authorities, and to the important cooperation between the Olive Oil Syndicate (Jordan Olive Oil Mills and Producer Syndicate), the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Jordan Food and Drug Administration,” added Najdawi.

Jordan News reached out to the JFDA but received no answer.

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