The provision backed by California lawmakers would have allowed the Agriculture Department to extend mandatory quality controls for the domestic industry to imports. The bill’s language would have allowed government testing of domestic and imported olive oil to ensure that it was labeled correctly.
That testing, intended to prevent labeling lower-grade olive oil as “extra virgin” or fraudulently cutting in other types of oil, would be much more comprehensive than what imported oils are subjected to now. Extra virgin olive oil is considered to be the highest quality.
But the language on labeling was stripped from the bill on the House floor, an effort led by lawmakers from New York, where many of the country’s olive oil importers are based. They had the backing of food companies and grocery stores that use and sell olive oil.
Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a farmer from Northern California, suggested that labels for imported oil should say “extra rancid.”
“What we’re after here is not to cause problems for our friends who would like to market it. It’s more just the truth in advertising that’s necessary,” LaMalfa said.
New York Republicans said new testing standards would cost importers millions of dollars. Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of Staten Island, N.Y., said his Greek-American and Italian-American constituents know good oil and haven’t had problems.Extra virgin? US olive oil industry seeks greater government scrutiny of imports,