Each year, the French consume 110,000 tons of olive oil. Faced with this enthusiasm, 60 million consumers analyzed 24 oil references… and discovered that the majority of them are contaminated with plasticizers or hydrocarbons.
I’olive oil occupies a place of choice in our cupboards. Its benefits have been the subject of many studies and it is the star of the Mediterranean diet, designated as the best healthy diet by all nutrition experts. Health benefits that mean that the French consume nearly 110,000 tonnes of it each year.
Faced with this enthusiasm, the experts of the magazine 60 million consumers chose to test 24 olive oils among the best-selling on the market. Conventional oils and organic oils, oils from major brands (Carapelli, Puget, Tramier, Terra Delyssa…) and private label oils (Lidl, Carrefour, E. Leclerc, Naturalia…). Their findings, published in the June 2023 magazine, show that the majority of them are still polluted by plasticizers or hydrocarbons.
23 out of 24 oils contain plasticizers
“23 of the references we tested contain between one and three plasticizers. These are mainly di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), followed closely by diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) classified as a proven endocrine disruptor and reprotoxic (toxic for reproduction) by the European Chemicals Agency, then by dibutyl phthalate (DBP). In addition to being an endocrine disruptor and reprotoxic, the latter is suspected of being persistent and bioaccumulative” underline the experts of the magazine.
60 million consumers pinpoint in particular 4 olive oils containing the two most problematic phthalates (DEHP and DBP):
- Naturalia Extra Virgin Like a Virgin
- La Vie Claire Extra Virgin
- Organic Cauvin Organic
- Terra Delyssa Extra Virgin.
Mineral oil hydrocarbons are also present in some bottles of olive oil, “notably MOSHs (saturated hydrocarbons of mineral oils) and MOAHs (aromatic hydrocarbons of mineral oils), the most dangerous because of their carcinogenic and genotoxic properties”. These residues are present in particular in Simply Good and Organic (Aldi) “Extra Virgin”, Bio Village (E. Leclerc benchmark brand) “Extra Virgin” and organic Carapelli “Extra Virgin Classico” oils.
Olive oil: which are the best?
It is the conventional olive oil from Spain “Primadonna” from Lidl which obtains the best score in the ranking published in the magazine (16/20). In addition to its reasonable price (€6.99/L), it is the only one to contain no pollutants.
In second place in this ranking we find another private label: olive oil. Carrefour Reflet de France oil from Provence AOP which obtains the score of 15/20, but which is still almost 5 times more expensive (31.30€/L).
Is olive oil really good for your health?
Olive oil is great for our arteries because it lowers bad cholesterol. But that’s not all. It helps to fight against cardiovascular disorders or thrombosis. This oil is also full of polyphenols, antioxidants that slow down cell aging, and vitamins K (blood clotting and bone strength). Its vitamin E content helps maintain elastic skin. It also contains Omega 3, 6 and 9essential fatty acids that have many virtues: protection of the heart, the brain, among others.
Faced with these many assets, one might be tempted to award it the palm of the best oil. But that’s a bit of a quick shortcut.
“Yes this oil is excellent for health because apart from Omega 3, 6 and 9, it contains vitamins A and B, as well as minerals such as calcium, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, manganese, confirms Adélaïde d’Abboville, dietitian nutritionist. However, it should be alternated with other oils and not used exclusively. The ideal is to supplement with rapeseed oil, or walnut oil for example. Thus, we benefit from a range of different vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that will complement each other perfectly.“
>> Watch your calories. “Olive oil is 100% fat, and a tablespoon is 90 calories. So two tablespoons a day and another 2 tablespoons of other vegetable oils is a good quota for fill it up with interesting nutrients”, recommends the dietician.
Finally, you should know that it can be eaten raw or cooked, provided it does not exceed 160°. And you have to opt for those with the mention “first cold pressing“which guarantee the naturalness of the product, and therefore the preservation of nutrients of interest to health.
60 million consumers, June 2023
Adélaïde d’Abboville, nutritionist dietitian