Oils made from pressed olive pits and skins are called olive pomace. It is far cheaper than virgin olive oil to produce, said Eryn Balch, executive vice president of the NAOOA.
"Olive pomace oil is not allowed in any grade of olive oil under any standard in the world," Balch said.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Themis Kangadis, an executive with Kangadis Food, which is based in Hauppage, N.Y., and does business as The Gourmet Factory, said he had "no idea," that the association had filed a lawsuit.
Balch explained to the Times that the group had discovered prices for Capatriti olive oil was far cheaper than rival brands, which suggested tins labeled "100% Pure Olive Oil," were filled with blended products.
The industry standard for virgin olive is that it be made from the first pressing of olives and that it includes no other fats or oils. That is also the definition adopted by the Food and Drug Administration in 1982.
New York State takes it a step further, requiring that blended products be accurately labeled with percentages of each component put on the label.
Balch said the association hired an independent contractor to buy samples of Capatriti products and send them to a laboratory in Spain for testing. The lab "clearly confirmed that none of the samples were olive oil," Balch said. "Instead they were some type of pomace oil and pomace oil and seed oils."
"There have been too many reports that the grading and labeling of olive oil are a big problem," said Dan Flynn, executive director of the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis.