2

votes

How to know if olive oil at salad bar is actually olive oil?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 28, 2012 at 2:01 AM

Apparently, sometimes oil labeled as olive oil is actually a mix of olive oil and other cheaper (e.g., soybean) oils. E.g.:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=98401360

Is there any way to know if the "olive oil" in the clear glass pour bottle at the end of the salad bar is actually 100% olive oil? How likely is it that it's actually a mix with a cheaper oil?

312537f2ecb216c830c3fd351efcfbbc

(110)

on May 29, 2013
at 03:03 AM

Egg, avocado or meat for the fat.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 06, 2012
at 12:36 PM

Yeah ~3 ounces. My trips are generally 4 or 5 days long.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 06, 2012
at 10:09 AM

There's that rule that lets you bring upto a 3.4 ounces of liquids on the plane, no? Granted, it's not a lot, but for one meal, it's ok. http://www.tsa.gov/311/311-carry-ons.shtm

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on September 06, 2012
at 03:02 AM

it has worked well for me! Eggs are awesome as well!

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I'm not 100% convinced this works given all the food engineering out there. Also, you can take 100% pure olive oil and refine it further which likely removes at least some of the flavor?

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:49 PM

Really? Is that maybe a little extreme? I wish there was a definitive way to know how pervasive the problem really is.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:48 PM

I was thinking more for one off situations. In particular I was in an office cafeteria while traveling for work. I didn't have much confidence that the workers would know the brand...

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:47 PM

Yeah, I wish there was a way of knowing how pervasive this really is.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:47 PM

Good suggestion. I started doing this as well. I think there was a recent study finding that nutrients from vegetables are better absorbed if eaten with fat. Luckily, most salad bars have hard boiled eggs so I just load the top with that. Should do the trick for the fat.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:45 PM

But then you always have to check your luggage at the airport?

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on August 29, 2012
at 02:37 PM

Even if they think they bought 100% olive oil, chances are it is not due to wide-spread fraud in the olive oil industry.

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:37 PM

PrairieProf is right. Even if you ONLY buy olive oil with the numbered & coded stamp of purity, there is still a possibility of contamination, although with the stamping the likelihood decreases significantly.

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:35 PM

You can ask, and they might give you a sincere answer, and it still be artificial oil without them knowing it.

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:34 PM

I would normally agree with this, but recently read an article where the olive oil cutting (with cheaper oils and flavorings) has become so common that even "expert" tasters will guess wrong.

D63a9a7789b948a1e88647f6c0e504ca

(1453)

on August 28, 2012
at 01:24 PM

But given that you can buy a bottle that says "olive oil" and you don't know for sure either, you couldn't expect the restaurant to know. I mean, they could put it out in good faith as olive oil but they are probably buying a cheaper brand and it might have been mixed already. (I figure "Well, I know for sure any other salad dressing is crap oil, so I'll take my chances.)

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 28, 2012
at 05:02 AM

Or just ask them? It's free.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:32 AM

Ask them straight up. Is this 100 percent olive oil?

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10 Answers

best answer

2
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on August 28, 2012
at 04:05 AM

When eating out I usually pass on the olive oil and use just the vinegar....

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:47 PM

Good suggestion. I started doing this as well. I think there was a recent study finding that nutrients from vegetables are better absorbed if eaten with fat. Luckily, most salad bars have hard boiled eggs so I just load the top with that. Should do the trick for the fat.

1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on September 06, 2012
at 03:02 AM

it has worked well for me! Eggs are awesome as well!

312537f2ecb216c830c3fd351efcfbbc

(110)

on May 29, 2013
at 03:03 AM

Egg, avocado or meat for the fat.

5
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 28, 2012
at 04:04 AM

It is pretty likely that it is cut with something, perhaps even unbeknownst to the distributor. Counterfeit olive oil is freakishly common. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/08/13/070813fa_fact_mueller

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:47 PM

Yeah, I wish there was a way of knowing how pervasive this really is.

5
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:20 AM

You need one of those machines from CSI, NCIS, Bones, etc... that tells you the composition of something in exactly 2.2 seconds. That and who killed the prostitute with a heart of gold. Man, what don't those machines know?!

In reality, you'd probably need a GC/MS, pocket-sized preferrably.

194d8e8140425057fe06202e1e5822a7

(3979)

on August 28, 2012
at 05:02 AM

Or just ask them? It's free.

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:35 PM

You can ask, and they might give you a sincere answer, and it still be artificial oil without them knowing it.

3
78964c5cc470f86a5897db8e1ce8e6f9

on August 28, 2012
at 03:29 AM

If it's a restaurant (or grocery store) you frequent, ask what brand they use. Then research the brand to see if it's been tested for purity.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:48 PM

I was thinking more for one off situations. In particular I was in an office cafeteria while traveling for work. I didn't have much confidence that the workers would know the brand...

2
96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on August 28, 2012
at 10:08 AM

You can always bring your own - just decant it in a smaller bottle. I do when I travel, never had problems with that.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:45 PM

But then you always have to check your luggage at the airport?

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 06, 2012
at 12:36 PM

Yeah ~3 ounces. My trips are generally 4 or 5 days long.

96440612cf0fcf366bf5ad8f776fca84

(19463)

on September 06, 2012
at 10:09 AM

There's that rule that lets you bring upto a 3.4 ounces of liquids on the plane, no? Granted, it's not a lot, but for one meal, it's ok. http://www.tsa.gov/311/311-carry-ons.shtm

1
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on February 06, 2013
at 07:48 PM

I used to buy the sardines packed in olive oil, but then I heard about this problem. If the Mafia is adulterating the olive oil with cheaper oils before it even leaves Italy, then the best option is to not buy olive oil at all. So, I switched what I buy now- sardines in tomato sauce or water- and then I add fat in that I have confidence in. I think this change has led to some improvement in general.

1
4b5be253ac1981c690689cab7e4bf06d

(3043)

on August 28, 2012
at 08:35 PM

Taste it. But, also know what olive oil actually tastes like. I did a herb and olive oil dip, and a friend asked if I put anything hot in it, because she was feeling the peppery bite of actual extra virgin olive oil.

If you can't taste olives, it tastes stale or overly "oily," don't eat it.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I'm not 100% convinced this works given all the food engineering out there. Also, you can take 100% pure olive oil and refine it further which likely removes at least some of the flavor?

1
F9638b939a6f85d67f60065677193cad

(4266)

on August 28, 2012
at 04:20 PM

If at this restaurant your dinner for two didn't cost at least $200 or if you haven't seen the restaurant's employees shopping for the restaurant at the farmers market, you can assume it's not real olive oil.

Ae8946707ddebf0f0bfbcfc63276d823

(9402)

on September 05, 2012
at 04:49 PM

Really? Is that maybe a little extreme? I wish there was a definitive way to know how pervasive the problem really is.

1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on August 28, 2012
at 07:44 AM

Mass spectrometer.

Can also become familiar with the smell and taste.

Cebbca9a78d5612bf3468b273c2010d5

(452)

on August 28, 2012
at 03:34 PM

I would normally agree with this, but recently read an article where the olive oil cutting (with cheaper oils and flavorings) has become so common that even "expert" tasters will guess wrong.

0
217fc6ef1b76bf244bcb22b3e5c5841c

on February 06, 2013
at 06:38 PM

Pure olive oil is quite rarely sold in grocery stores. All of the large name brand olive oils are cut with something else, or else use older olives than was once traditional. If anyone is really interested in this evolution, you should read "Extra Virginity", it's a fantastic book on the subject.

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