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November 12, 2018

Slick Olive Oil Label Designed to Deceive

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:56 am

Most shoppers don’t spend a lot of time scrutinizing product labels in the supermarket. And that might be what one manufacturer is counting on.

In what appears to be one of the most deceptive labels ever, this extra virgin olive oil brand seems to be deliberately trying to put one over on consumers.

Iberia full bottle

Only on closer inspection does the true nature of this product reveal itself:


Iberia oil closeup

You will have to look closely at this picture taken from the Target website. It reveals in thin black type on a dark green background that the content of the bottle is really “sunflower oil and extra virgin olive oil.” How diluted with sunflower oil is this product?


Iberia ingredients

Look carefully. This product is really only 20% extra virgin olive oil and the rest is sunflower oil.

Now, the front of the product does say “premium blend” but that does not clearly convey the true nature of this product in MrConsumer’s view. One might believe this means, for example, that it is a blend of various extra virgin oils from several regions.

So how does this company get away with a label so seemingly deceptive? No one had gone after them — until last month. A New York law firm just filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging that its label is violating the deceptive practice consumer protection laws of all 50 states. Among the claims being made is that the product is not delivering the expected health benefits that purchasers expect because it is not 100% olive oil.

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  1. Even 30 years ago my eyes would probably not have caught that. When they pull stuff like this I try to avoid the brand as a whole, not just the specific product — lousy business ethics I choose not to support.

    Comment by BobF — November 12, 2018 @ 8:34 am
  2. This is just dirty and misleading and this company should be ashamed of itself. I hope they lose that lawsuit and pay greatly in damages and are forced to change the product.

    Comment by Joel — November 12, 2018 @ 9:40 am
  3. It says SUNFLOWER, not safflower. Sunflower oil is much better and healthier. But it does not make it right to do what they are doing. Not everyone has sharp vision. Any time there is a BLEND, we should check it out.

    Edgar replies: Thanks so much, Susanna, for catching that. All fixed in text.

    Comment by Susanna — November 12, 2018 @ 9:49 am
  4. When companies resort to sleazy tactics like this – it makes there whole product line sleazy as well. Another brand on my do not buy list.

    How is this even allowed to be called olive oil. Isn’t there some sort of olive oil association that sets standards (such as 80% olive oil) before you can call it that.

    Comment by Rob — November 12, 2018 @ 9:51 am
  5. I’m with BobF. If a brand will try to cheat you with one product, how can you trust them not to do it with any of their products? Their web site is if you want to see what their other product lines are. They appear to be a regional brand (East Coast).

    Comment by Richard — November 12, 2018 @ 9:56 am
  6. The keyword is “Blend” when I see that word on any product I bypass them in the grocery aisles.

    Comment by Scott — November 12, 2018 @ 10:01 am
  7. Extremely good point. Yesterday, I picked up an olive oil with the brand name Litaly. In the small print it is produced in turkey. I am sure there is nothing wrong with Turkish oil , but my eyes deceived me as my brain thought it was made in italy.

    Comment by nancy sing — November 12, 2018 @ 10:15 am
  8. I spotted this in a little independent grocery store in Vero Beach, Florida, about a year and a half ago and reported the deceptive label to various authorities, including the state where the product’s parent company resides. My complaint detailed the deceptive use of small print, dark print on a dark background, emphasizing the minor ingredient while disguising the major ingredient, etc. I included a photo. I never heard back from anybody and just gave up. I am heartened to hear that maybe i sparked this lawsuit!!!

    Comment by RussC — November 12, 2018 @ 12:14 pm
  9. Well Joel they do say BLEND in very easy to ready letters. I do not like the use of the black letters as it does make it a bit hard to read.

    I hope the lawyers win.

    Comment by Richard Ginn — November 12, 2018 @ 12:45 pm
  10. I’m a big label reader, especially when I buy a new/different product. Well my guard was down when I purchased McCormick’s Mixed Peppercorn grinder (I usually buy Alessi but the store was out), so I figured why not their products are usually fine. Big mistake, I used it for the first time on my eggs the next morning. It took me a moment before I realized I was tasting coriander (the seed not the herb). So I checked the ingredient label & it had coriander as the second ingredient (black peppercorns was first), with pink peppercorns, white peppercorns, allspice & green peppercorns. I use ground coriander & allspice a lot in dessert foods but not in savory foods. I sent them an email about how disappointed I was & they said the stock things, we only use quality ingredients, etc. (blah, blah, blah). They did say they would send me a ‘replacement coupon’ in the mail. Why would they think a ‘replacement coupon’ was appropriate? Why would I ‘buy’ it again?

    Comment by Gert — November 12, 2018 @ 4:18 pm
  11. One of the problems today is that many people are working more hours every week. Many working 2 jobs. Then trying to run a house with children. Fix supper. The point is…people are busy and stretched thin. Barely time enough to shop let alone read deceptive labels. Shame on these companies.

    Comment by Glen Weybright — November 12, 2018 @ 6:55 pm
  12. After reading Richard Ginn’s comment, I had to scroll back up to re-read the label and I did see the word “blend” that I didn’t catch the first time. Without having to read it, that would have been more obvious if the “Sunflower Oil” at the bottom was the same color and font as the “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” below it.

    One should also bring deceptive labels to the attention of store managers who sell it. Chances are they are not aware of it as well as with other possible deceptive labels on products that they stock. I’m sure stores don’t have time to scrutinize every product they sell, which is where we have to come it and bring it to their attention.

    Comment by Frankie — November 13, 2018 @ 4:58 pm
  13. One thing is Guaranteed it is all about $$$.
    I have said this a thousand times and we all know it is true.

    No one wants to pay what anything is HONESTLY worth.

    The companies know this, we know this and if something cost more the consumers will switch to,lower cost product.

    Most people only care about cost.

    While i think what the company is doing is slimy I understand the logic behind it.

    Rather than keep quality as number one priority they substitute lower cost product and list it on label so it is hard to read and very few people will see. This way they accomplish 2 goals…keep,profits up and keep selling product.

    Sad but it is the way business does things these days. With them doing that this website would no have to exsist.

    Too bad there is not a way to expose the waynthings are done on a national scale that millions will pay attention to.

    Maybe a tv commericial run on all networks in prime time shaming these companies

    Comment by Rich — November 17, 2018 @ 8:26 am
  14. Rich,

    I am willing to pay for what a product is worth. But, it is very difficult to sort through the deceptively-labeled garbage to find the good quality stuff. Being more expensive doesn’t automatically mean a product is good. I’ve seen vendors re-list items on Amazon with a slightly different title for double the price.

    Comment by MarcK1024 — November 23, 2018 @ 9:17 am
  15. This is an egregious example is deceptive labeling. This Iberia company should suffer severe financial consequences for this act.

    Good find

    Comment by Wayne — November 27, 2018 @ 11:05 am

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