As the festival of Chanukah approaches, Israelis are being warned to watch out for a particular seasonal hazard: fake olive oil.
Leading kashrut expert Rabbi Yosef Zaritsky told shoppers on the Charedi website Bchadrei Charedim that those buying oil for Chanukah, which starts on Friday night, should “be on guard for counterfeit oil.”
Officials from the Chief Rabbinate are also engaged in a campaign against brands that emerge during the holiday season selling cheap olive oil that is of questionable content.
“Fraudulent kosher seals and fraudulent olive oil often go together,” says Rabbi Rafi Yochai, the chief kashrut enforcer for the Chief Rabbinate.
“Oil fraud has been carried out on a vast scale in the past but we are fighting the phenomenon and raising public awareness of it.”
Zaritsky said that the market has been infiltrated by merchants engaging in “foilishtik,” or foolishness, by mixing in flavouring and smell additives. In some cases they mix soya oil with the olive oil.
He said there were also cases of merchants adding colouring to soya oil to make it look like olive oil.
He recommends spreading oil on one’s hand to test whether it is pure olive oil.
“If after five minutes, the smell remains, then it isn’t olive oil. The smell of olive oil dissipates.”