July 1, 2013

Olive Oil Legislation Would Have Been Good for Kashrus, Rabbis Say

WASHINGTON DC — A bill in Congress that would have subjected Italian and Greek olive oil to new fees and testing went down to defeat, but kashrus officials are hoping that it will be revived. New York legislators voted to head off the tax in response to a lobby by many Italian and Greek community leaders who sought to avoid the sharply higher prices. The New Yorkers were opposed by California’s powerful delegation. It is largely believed that terms like “extra virgin olive oil” are abused and that there is really no safeguard against the misrepresentations. Imports already have about 98 percent of the market and go through spot-checking instead of much more rigorous taste and chemical tests the feds would oversee, which would have been funded by the new tax. 

Rabbi Avrohom Marmorstein, Rabbinic Director of Mehadrin Kashrus said that the kosher supervision world is very much in favor of this provision, since many rabbis have become concerned about adulterated olive oils not being kosher. “If the New York politicians had known more about the Jewish community’s concerns they would have backed the testing of imported olive oils,” Rabbi Marmorstein said. “Unfortunately for the interests of voters who care about quality, but fortunately for bargain hunters, they chose to cut this provision form the law, he added. 

Incidentally Fairway Markets where Rabbi Marmorstein certifies the bakery and kosher meats tests all the olive oils imported under their own label.