You’d better watch what you say about olive oil -- it could send you on a slippery slope to the courtroom.
Seven New York olive oil retailers are being sued by trade group the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) after allegedly making claims the olive oil they sell is better than some other olive oils.
Park Slope’s O Live Brooklyn is being sued, along with five Long Island outlets of The Crushed Olive and New York retailer D’Avolio, which has four outlets across the state, court documents show.
They join celebrity physician Dr. Oz, who is also being taken to court by the NAOOA for “false olive oil attacks” after he suggested on air that the majority of extra virgin olive oil bought in supermarkets “may even be fake.”
The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District Court of New York on Dec. 19, is seeking damages and an injunction, claiming the New York retailers got together with California distributor Veronica Foods, which is also being sued, to pump out "false and misleading statements about the quality and health benefits of the olive oil sold in supermarkets and elsewhere."
The NAOOA represents a number of marketers, packagers and importers of olive oil, many of whom have products stocked in supermarkets.
At the center of the case: the question of whether some olive oils are better for you than others.
The court documents specifically take offense with an interview done with the co-owner of O Live Brooklyn, where he is quoted saying, “Avoid major brands. Those bottles have been sitting around on shelves for God knows how long.”
The complaint says the Brooklyn business owner’s words suggest “that those olive oils have lost their quality and health benefits.”
The NAOOA has demanded the case go to trial to be heard by a jury.
Veronica Foods said in a statement to NBC 4 New York that it "stands by the truth and accuracy of all of the statements we have made with regard to olive oil and our related products."
It added, "We believe the NAOOA has filed this lawsuit against Veronica Foods in an attempt to interfere with our efforts to improve the quality of olive oil and accuracy of olive oil labeling."
"We look forward to proving the falsehood of inaccurate and self-serving allegations made by the NAOOA in court," Veronica Foods said.