The Food Dating Scam

Olive Oil Expiry

With everyone in “shelter in place”, we are all trying to figure out what we have in the pantry/refrigerator/ freezer. And, what is good and what is not good.

Relax most is good.

However, use the FIFO policy, first in first out, of the refrigerator and pantry. Eat fresh, if you can, during this difficult time.

Have you ever really wondered about best by dates? There is a recent spate of articles about how long foods are safe with confusing and different best by dates. In addition, there is so much confusion on line about what this really means.

Harvey W. Wiley PhD, the “father of pure food”, was a chemist working in the early 1900’s. He was very concerned about food safety and the lack of oversight. His perseverance and commitment to food safety led to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. This law began a huge improvement in the food system in the US. This policy was adapted abroad as other countries began their own research. President Teddy Roosevelt signed the act into law.

This law focused on food safety but now we are also concerned about food safety in relation to food waste.

Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic and NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) paper on food waste and dating states in their executive summary of ( 2013) that :

The waste of edible food by consumers, retailers, and manufacturers poses a significant burden to the American food system. Wasted food costs consumers and industry money; squanders important natural resources that are used to grow, process, distribute, and store American’s food supply; and represents a missed opportunity to feed the millions of food insecure households in the United States that are struggling to access healthy, affordable food. Misinterpretation of the date labels on foods is a key factor leading to this waste.

BUT Olive Oil????

So let me speak to what I know the best.

Consumers need to know the olive oil’s harvest and mill date. This is usually the same day for most producers. We say, this is the day the oil was born. Some new legislation is suggesting that the best by date be the last time the olive oil was handled. Indeed this is the last time that we as producers have an option to assess the oil for quality and integrity. There is some logic to this part of the discussion.

Here is our internal reasoning that we present to you as a consumer.

Olive oil is best when it is fresh, meaning within about two years of being milled. All oil degrades over time, even in perfect storage conditions. Meaning cool, dark, and quiet. Which we rigorously maintain at IL Fiorello.

If an oil was made on October 15, 2022 and it was kept in bulk until September 1, 2024. Then bottled in 2024, the best by date is two years from 2024 or 2026. This means that the oil is actually then 4 years old. This is very confusing and really does not do the olive oil industry any favors.

IL Fiorello always will tell you the milling date of our oil, and list it on our bottles. We believe in full and honest disclosure. With Extra Virgin Olive Oil, certified in California, it must be olive oil and nothing else in the bottle. That bottle of olive oil that has garlic or rosemary in it and says extra virgin on the label is consumer fraud. More later on the allowable adulteration of wine. However, I digress.

At our Visitor Center, at the end of each day, we use PrivatE PreservE © Wine Preserver for each open bottle of oil. It will preserve the oil from oxidation and going rancid.

If you use oil often and well, at home, you should not have any issues with oxidation.

Use logic, be careful, and try to eat fresh when you can. Be safe.

When you can come and visit IL Fiorello and we can continue this discussion.