The Dr. Oz Show has been criticized for making unsubstantiated or sometimes downright contradictory claims. However, the show has won the key ruling against the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) in its recent lawsuit challenging the show’s reporting on mislabeled imported olive oil.
Last year, the NAOOA filed a lawsuit against The Dr. Oz Show for false attacks on its May 12th segment on extra virgin olive oil entitled, “Is Your Olive Oil Fake?” In the episode, Oz states that “a shocking 80% of the extra virgin olive oil that you buy every day in your supermarket isn’t the real deal. It may even be fake.” Oz and his guest Maia Hirschbein, a certified oleologist and representative of the California Olive Ranch, proceed to conduct a sensory test for olive oil, and recommend reading labels carefully and scanning for a specific single country of origin. “When in doubt, buy domestic,” Oz advises.
In its complaint, the NAOAA claims that the percentage of mislabeling is much lower, arguing that it was only 2%. Furthermore, more than 99% of domestic extra virgin olive oil comes from California, presenting an undisclosed conflict of interest for guest Hirschbein.
In his ruling, Judge Dempsey of the Fulton Country Superior Court in Atlanta, GA determined that the NAOOA did not establish a case against The Dr. Oz Show under the “Veggie Libel Statue” which allows a food manufacturer or processor to sue a person or group who makes disparaging comments about their food products. In fact, Dempsey expressed “grave concerns that the motivation for present action falls directly within the purpose of the anti-SLAPP statute as an attempt to chill speech, in this case, in the competitive marketplace.”
The Dr. Oz Show’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against it by the NAOOA was granted on the grounds that the reporting and statements made on the show are protected under Georgia’s Anti SLAPP statute.