Olive Oil Companies Sue Dr. Oz

Dr. OzDr. Oz is in trouble again for possible false claims. The TV personality is featured in the textbook in Chapter 9 for promoting products without evidence that they work. Now, an olive oil trade association, North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), is suing him for attacking the industry.

On his show, Dr. Oz said, "[A] shocking 80% of the extra virgin olive oil that you buy every day in your supermarket isn't the real deal," and "It may even be fake. Most of the olive oil in your pantry might be a scam." But Dr. Oz used taste tests, which Eryn Balch, a NAOOA representative said aren't an accurate way to determine product quality and purity.

A Forbes article explains the issue:

The problem with the study and its interpretation is twofold:  1) Sensory taste tests cannot detect purity and 2) The number of samples was small and hardly representative of the marketplace, testing only three specimens each of fourteen imported and five California brands. "It got misinterpreted, and it just spread," Balch said. Even the New York Times got it wrong, with an infographic claiming that 69% of all imported olive oils are "doctored," even though the Olive Center report showed no such thing. The Times eventually corrected its mistake but the damage was already done. "It's been five years now, and it's still spreading," Balch said.

Dr. Oz was most recently in the news because a group of doctors signed a petition to have him removed from his position at Columbia University Department of Surgery. He also made headlines for promoting a weight loss program without proven evidence. His impact is sometimes called the "Dr. Oz Effect" because his claims sell a lot of product.

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • Dr. Oz will fight the suit, of course. What claims and evidence will he use to make his case?
  • What does it take to convince you to buy a new product or stop buying a product you have been using? Consider principles from Chapter 7 on persuasion: logical argument, emotional appeal, and credibility. To which do you most respond?