It's probably safe to say that olive oil producers are not fans of Dr. Oz.
The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) on Thursday announced that it is suing the popular daytime talk show host in Fulton County Georgia under that state’s food libel statute in connection with allegations made on his show regarding the quality and integrity of olive oil sold in U.S.
According the the NAOOA The story in question first aired on May 12, 2016. According to the complaint filed by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), Dr. Oz falsely stated that a “shocking 80% of the extra virgin olive oil that you buy every day in your supermarket isn’t the real deal. It may even be fake.”
The complaint further alleges that Dr. Oz falsely portrayed olive oils as “mixed with artificial colors and less expensive oils.”
The NAOOA contends that it has used independent International Olive Council (IOC) labs to test hundreds of olive oils collected directly from supermarkets annually, stating that "results consistently show that more than 98 percent of olive oil in U.S. retail outlets is authentic."
“Rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific research has consistently shown that all types of olive oil have significant health benefits, including reducing heart disease,” said Eryn Balch, executive vice president of the NAOOA.
The NAOOA also took issue with featured guest Maia Hirschbein. Hrishbein works for West Coast olive oil producer California Olive Ranch, but was introduced only as an “olive oil expert.”
According to the complaint filed by the NAOOA, “[a]t no point in the show did any person disclose Ms. Hirschbein’s vested interest in denigrating olive oils originating outside of California or her vested interest in promoting California olive oils.”
The NAOOA says that California olive oil special interests have coordinated a national campaign to spread false information about the purity of olive oil available in the U.S. As a result of this effort, overall U.S. consumption of olive oil has stagnated after tripling from 1990-2012, while California production has benefited from double-digit annual growth in recent years.