Avocados, touted as the cure-all superfood, are also pressed to make an oil full of a healthy fat called oleic acid. It is used as a cooking oil and can be sprinkled on dishes. Not just that, it is used for its moisturizing properties in various cosmetic products.
Much like how the demand for olive oil soared and fraudulent practices followed to make huge quantities, the market for avocado oil has been corrupted by manufacturers looking to mass-produce low-quality products.
According to a new study published in the journal Food Control, most avocado oils tested by researchers expired early, were mixed with other oils and labelled inaccurately as “extra virgin oil” to mislead consumers. This goes to show that the industry has no standard regulations, hence deceiving consumers is the norm, due to no ethical standards established thus far.
This first of its kind extensive study of avocado oils was led by Selina Wang, cooperative extension specialist, department of food science and technology at the University of California, Davis. Along with Ph.D candidate Hilary Green, Wang categorized oil samples based on origin, cost, packaging and purchasing method.
They were sorted and coded according to the type of oil: extra virgin oil, refined oil and unspecified oils.“Each oil sample was wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in the dark at 20 °C. Samples were purged with nitrogen after each opening,” the researchers explained regarding how they studied the chemical properties of the oils.
Before that, the researchers collected 14 samples from six grocery stores and eight samples from online stores. Of the 22 samples acquired from all the major brands sourced from California, Mexico, Brazil and Spain, about 82 percent turned rancid before the expiration date printed on the label and were also mixed together with different oils.
For example. soybean oil is inexpensive and easier to produce, which some manufacturers took advantage of and diluted avocado oils with. Specifically, these researchers discovered that three bottles had more soybean oil than avocado oil, despite being labeled “pure” and “extra virgin”.
Higher pricing did not make a difference to quality either. The most expensive avocado oils in the review had the highest peroxidation value. Clear packaging causes quicker photooxidation when kept in storage. However, tinted coloring of the packaging protects the bottles from oxidizing, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Sadly, these products are thriving on the market. “…There are no standards to determine if an avocado oil is of the quality and purity advertised, no one is regulating false or misleading labels. These findings highlight the urgent need for standards to protect consumers and establish a level playing field to support the continuing growth of the avocado oil industry,” Wang said in the news release.
Some of the other findings include:
- Fifteen samples expired earlier than they should have by oxidizing and losing all flavor due to heat or light exposure.
- Six samples were diluted with sunflower, safflower and soybean oils.
- Refined avocado oils by Chosen Foods, Marianne’s Avocado Oil and CalPure are brands that appear to be pure, refined, edible and safe to consume.
“These findings demonstrate there is an urgent need to develop standards for avocado oil not only to ensure the consumers receive high quality and authentic products but to establish a level playing field to support the continuing growth of the global avocado oil industry,” the paper emphasized.