According to this article from NPR.org, my favourite source for online news, Connecticut is the first state in the nation to enforce standards to protect the purity of olive oil. This came about after food inspectors tested cheap bottles of what was labelled as “extra-virgin olive oil,” which turned out to have a blend of other oils–hazelnut, peanut, soy, etc–with perhaps a bit of olive-pomace oil thrown in. According to The Olive Oil Source, olive-pomace oil is obtained by treating the ground flesh and pits after pressing with solvents or other physical treatments, and is considered inferior to virgin and extra-virgin olive oils. In fact, it’s generally used for soapmaking and industrial purposes.
For people with serious nut allergies, this is something to be aware of. I’ve been buying Newman’s Own Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, and it’s been fine and dandy for me. It’s unfortunate there are manufacturers who lack the scruples to sell an honest product, especially when it’s an inferior product which can cause people with allergies to be sick or worse. California is slated to consider olive oil regulation next, and New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island are also considering setting state standards. Let’s hope this will be taken up on the federal level.