When is a virgin not a virgin?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
I guess it comes down to what your definition of “virgin” is. Or, in this case, “extra virgin.”
Orange County law firm Callahan & Blaine has filed a class-action lawsuit charging that distributors and retailers of extra virgin olive oil were in fact selling lesser-quality oil, adding to their profits at the expense of unsuspecting consumers.
The case was filed in Orange County Superior Court, and follows a few years’ worth of media coverage and a July academic report casting doubt on the quality of some marketed extra virgin olive oil. And home cooks know that it makes a difference. True extra virgin oil is less acidic with a smoother texture and more robust flavor.
According to Callahan & Blaine, consumers spend some $700 million a year on olive oil, so the profit potential from the alleged adulteration of the extra virgin oil could be significant.
Plaintiffs include chef David W. Martin (a Bravo TV “Top Chef” alum); Michael D. Owings, culinary director of Dink’s Restaurant and Ultra Lounge in Palm Springs; and Antonello’s Ristorante at the upscale South Coast Plaza Village in Costa Mesa.
Defendants include names familiar to home cooks: Bertolli, Filippo Berio, Carapelli, Star, Colavita, Mezzetta, Pompeian, Rachael Ray and Mazola, as well as retailers Bristol Farms, Gelson’s Markets, Vons/Pavilions, Ralphs, Stater Brothers, Albertson’s Market, Target, Walmart, K Mart, and Nob Hill Foods.