Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Does Olive Oil Contain Peanuts?
Peanut allergies are serious business. If you have a peanut allergy, you know how critical it is to avoid even traces of peanuts to prevent an allergic reaction.
Here’s the good news. Legitimate olive oil does not contain peanuts or peanut remnants. However, there is a concern about olive oil if you have a peanut allergy. As you’ll soon discover, some bottles of illegitimate olive oil may contain traces of peanut or peanut oil.
First, let’s look at how olive oil is made and why it doesn’t naturally contain peanuts but why some unscrupulous sources of olive oil may.
How Olive Oil Is Made
Olive oil is made from olives that grow on olive trees in areas like Spain, Italy, and Greece. There are also some states in America (California and Arizona) that produce olive oil, as well as farms in Texas that grow olives for the purpose of making olive oil.
After removing the olives from the tree, the oil must be removed from the fruit. The process of extracting oil from olives begins with harvesting, which takes place by hand.
Harvesters pick the olives before they're ripe. Rather than falling off the tree as a fruit would, they are carefully removed by hand and placed in crates for transport.
Once harvested and transported to the factory, olive oil production can begin. The next step in creating this versatile product is pressing the olives.
Pressing the Olives Releases Olive Oil
To extract as much oil as possible from each olive, workers place the olives in large presses that squeeze out most of their natural juices—and sometimes their flesh.
After pressing, the liquefied olives are separated into two different types of oil: virgin and refined.
Virgin olive oils contain less than 0.8% free acidity (meaning they have fewer impurities), while refined products are more processed than virgins and typically have higher acidity levels due to artificial antioxidants used during processing.
Olive Oil Fraud Is Common
Legitimate olive oil should not contain even a trace of peanuts. Yet studies show that olive oil fraud is rampant, especially overseas. Manufacturers, in a quest to make a bigger profit, dilute olive oil with other oils, including soybean oil and peanut oil to reduce the cost.
Therefore, fraudulent olive oil can contain peanut oil. That's why it's crucial to research olive oil brands and choose a reputable brand.
Read More From Delishably
Olive Oil Doesn’t Always Live Up to Standards
Researchers at the University of California, Davis, tested 134 samples of extra virgin olive oil. They found that 73 percent didn't meet the standards for extra virgin olive oil.
The researchers discovered two brands of extra virgin olive oil sold at grocery stores that were mixed with other types of oils such as sunflower or canola. They point out these brands have no place on store shelves because they don't meet industry standards for quality or purity.
Consumer Reports also performed tastes tests on extra-virgin olive oil from 23 manufacturers from overseas and domestic sources. It found that the quality of extra-virgin olive oil in California was better than that from Italy. Adulterating olive oil with cheaper oils seems to be a common practice.
It's Hard to Identify Fake Olive Oil by Taste
It can be difficult to tell if you are buying fraudulent olive oil because the true quality of the product is masked by additives or dilutions. The scammer simply dilutes the high-quality stuff with a cheaper oil like soybean or peanut oil.
Since the taste and smell of real extra virgin olive oil are related to its polyphenol content, it's challenging for consumers to tell the difference between pure olive oil and fake olive oil unless they're trained tasters.
This means that while legitimate olive oil is free of peanuts, fraudulent olive oil may not be.
Buy Certified Olive Oil to Ensure It's Free of Peanuts
One way to avoid the risk of peanut contamination is to buy certified olive oil. Certified olive oil is produced, processed, packed, and/or bottled according to standards established by an independent organization like the International Olive Council.
How to Buy Certified Olive Oil
When shopping for olive oil—whether at a grocery store or online—be sure to look for one of these seals:
- California Olive Oil Council (COOC) Certified Extra Virgin Seal: This seal means that 100 percent of the olives used to produce the oil were grown and harvested in California. The COOC also requires an inspection process before approving any producers who wish to use this seal.
- International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) Certified Extra Virgin Seal: This seal guarantees that 100 percent of the olives used in making the product came from Greece or Spain, two major producers of extra virgin olive oil.
Buy Olive Oil From a Reputable Supplier
Does olive oil have peanuts in it? If it's legitimate olive oil, it shouldn't, but not all olive oil is pure, unadulterated olive oil. The best way to avoid this problem is to buy certified olive oil from a reputable supplier.
"Imported olive oil quality unreliable, study finds | UC Davis." 13 Apr. 2011, https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/imported-olive-oil-quality-unreliable-study-finds.
Delgado C, Guinard JX. Sensory properties of Californian and imported extra virgin olive oils. J Food Sci. 2011 Apr;76(3):S170-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02040.x. PMID: 21535856.
"The Best Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - Consumer Reports Magazine." https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/09/how-to-find-the-best-extra-virgin-olive-oil/index.htm.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.