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Big Olive Company fined for misleading “extra virgin” labelling

A South Australian company has been fined $13 000 for misleading labelling, after it’s olive oil was not extra virgin as claimed.

The Big Olive Company, located in Tailem Bend, produced the oil concerned between December 2012 and March 2011, which was sold in 600ml bottles under the Oz Olio brand.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims said consumers are being tricked into buying an inferior product which is falsely labelled as “extra virgin.”

"All we can do is take action against people who are engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct," he said.

"So when someone brings out extra virgin olive oil that fails the fatty free acid standard, we can take action, because in our view, clearly, it's not extra virgin olive oil."

The fine handed down to the Big Olive Company is part of a wider investigation into mislabelling of olive oils by the ACCC.

It is the only company to be fined for misleading advertising so far, but according to South Australian olive grower, Richard Whiting, the $13 000 fine is not enough.

In a protest against the ACCC’s fine, Whiting bathed in olive oil outside Parliament House in Canberra earlier this month.

"The Australian Olive Association has given them many examples of oils that don't meet the standard," he said.

"Both the Australian standard and the International Olive Committee standard, they don't seem to have taken up the testing necessary to check the validity of those oils."

"People think they're doing the right thing by buying extra virgin olive oil, which they are, but sometimes it's not really what they're paying for.

"So to that extent we've all been taking a bath, and I'm here to try to push the point home to the Parliamentarians, and especially the ACCC, for them to start taking some action."

The Big Olive Company is refusing to comment on the fine.

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