December 17, 2012

Rabbis Take Fresh Look at Extra Virgin Olive Oil

NEW YORK — Extra virgin olive oil should no longer be considered automatically kosher, the recent conference of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) heard. In a presentation to some 200 rabbis who gathered last month at the headquarters of the Orthodox Union (OU), Rabbi Yechezkel Auerbach, Director of Independent Kashrus Research, said that the organization’s Ingredient Committee considers the olive oil “more like a standard vegetable oil which might be refined on equipment used for animal fat, fish oil and similar kosher-sensitive ingredients.” 

Furthermore, he said, there is reason to believe that it might be adulterated with other oils which would raise (some kashrus concerns and more significant) Pesach concerns. Rabbi Auerbach explained that the oil tested in Italy is not reliable even with a standard and certainly in the US where there is no standard. “The loose regulations coupled with the fact that only 10% of the crop qualifies as extra virgin, means that there is a meaningful concern that oil sold as extra virgin actually is (or contains) olive oil which has been refined and deodorized on equipment used for other oils.” 

Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, Executive Director of AKO, suggested that AKO create a subcommittee to share knowledge and investigate these issues further.