Spanish olive oil manufacturer Deoleo’s US division has agreed to a US$7M settlement in a class-action lawsuit stemming from alleged mislabelling of its extra virgin olive oil products.
The company, which produces the popular Bertolli brand of olive oil, also agreed to revamp its packaging and testing protocols as part of the settlement, wrote Food Dive on 12 April.
In the case against Deoleo USA, filed in 2014, the plaintiffs alleged that the firm had falsely labelled its products as “imported from Italy” and that they might not qualify as extra virgin quality due to being exposed to sunlight and heat before reaching the consumer.
The settlement required Deoleo to stop using the phrase “imported from Italy” on its labels unless the products in question were manufactured by using only olives grown and crushed in Italy.
The firm would also have to adopt “stronger testing practices” to ensure its olive oil complied with the extra virgin quality standards.
Deoleo USA’s Spanish parent company said in summer 2017 that it was planning to spend US$25M on product relaunches and marketing in Italy and the USA, which together made up 60% of its profits.
However, according to Food Dive analysis, this settlement could drive US consumers towards Californian olive oil, which in turn could give a boost to domestic US olive oil production.
Currently, only 5.8% of total US olive oil consumption originated from California.