To the Editor:
I was concerned by the representation of Greek olive oil in The National Herald article “Most Greek Bulk Olive Oil Found Adulterated, Hidden from Tax Collectors” (Nov. 9) (https://www.thenationalherald.com/most-greek-bulk-olive-oil-found-adulterated-hidden-from-tax-collectors/), because I believe that kind of misleading article and inaccurate headline have the potential to harm the Greek olive oil industry.
I know sensational headlines and stories sell papers, but I would not expect The National Herald to want to do that at the expense of a historic national product like olive oil, and the many Greeks and Greek Americans who work with it.
The headline and opening sentence of the article are inaccurate in a potentially damaging way, because if doubt about the quality of all Greek olive oil sold in bulk spreads, producers are in danger of earning lower prices for high-quality olive oil legally sold in bulk to other countries, where testing is done because those buyers want to be sure they get what they are paying for.
Based on the relevant quotation in the article, any claim about adulteration should apply only to tins and bottles of olive oil informally circulated within Greece, not to the bulk olive oil sold to Italy and other countries, where its higher quality has tended to be used to improve multi-national mixes before bottling. The article’s headline—which is all many people will read—sounds like it could apply to exported as well as domestically consumed olive oil.
Even for olive oil sold domestically and informally, you do not cite anyone who says most Greek bulk olive is adulterated. This is your quotation: “More than two-thirds of the bulk olive oil samples that have been taken from time to time as part of checks are inappropriate or incompatible with the claims of their producers or, in the worst case, adulterated, said National Interprofessional Olive Oil Organization President Emmanouil Giannoulis.
“Incompatible with the claims of their producers” is not the same as “in the worst case, adulterated.” The expert quoted did not apply the serious word “adulterated” to the majority of olive oil sold inside Greece, only to “the worst case.” Olive oil with a higher acidity than the producer reported could be “incompatible with the claims,” but not at all adulterated and still much healthier than refined vegetable oils.
As a resident of Crete who has been writing about the Greek olive oil world since 2015, I am concerned about the way the media has been representing olive oil lately. So I have been writing about why it is good to buy olive oil, attempting to counteract the endless articles about how expensive it is, which could reduce its consumer base in the long term if people are convinced it’s not worth the money—for example, if its quality is questionable.
Almost lost in the middle of your article, this sentence contains the type of message I like to highlight: “Greek olive oils that aren’t sold in bulk are among the world’s best, especially Extra Virgin that is prized for its quality and health benefits, studies showing it can even drastically reduce the risk of dementia.” The Greek liquid gold so essential to the economy, culture, history, and health of Greece can do so much more (https://www.greekliquidgold.com/index.php/en/health-benefits/olive-oil-health-benefits/164-health-benefits). Let’s help the people who work with it by emphasizing its positive contributions.
Lisa Radinovsky, PhD
Creator of the Greek Liquid Gold: Authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil website, www.greekliquidgold.com