Phthalate chemicals found in popular olive oils

Thirteen popular olive oils recently tested have detectable levels of phthalates, according to a new report from Mamavation.

Partnering with, the environmental wellness blog and community had 13 olive oils tested by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified lab and found levels of phthalates ranging from 655 parts per billion to 6,092 ppb. Nine of the 13 brands had levels higher than 1,200 ppb, with three having more than 2,000 ppb.

The results are concerning as phthalates are linked to hormone disruption, fertility impacts, low birth weights, obesity, diabetes, some cancers, brain and behavioral problems, and other health issues.

“Phthalates cause multiple adverse health effects, including developmental effects on the reproductive system and neurotoxicity. There is also evidence for causing cancer in laboratory animals,” Linda S. Birnbaum, scientist emeritus and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program, scholar in residence at Duke University, and adjunct professor at the University of North Carolina and Yale University, told Mamavation.

The chemicals are found in plastics, toys, personal care products such as lotions and deodorants, and other products. They’re also increasingly found in foods — Consumer Reports testing earlier this year found phthalates, often in high levels, in sliced peaches, pizza, canned salmon, protein milkshakes, yogurts, fast food burgers, and even organic some foods.

The new Mamavation testing builds on previous research linking olive oils to phthalates: a 2023 study found phthalates in eight olive oils.

While the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission restricts certain phthalates in children’s products, those same phthalates are approved as additives in foods by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2022, the FDA rejected two petitions calling for the removal of 28 phthalates from food use and contact.

“It is awful that food like olive oil that we consider healthy and promoting of longevity is widely contaminated with phthalates,” Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry & Director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, told Mamavation. “The olive oil manufacturers clearly must not understand how perilous small phthalate exposures, or small exposures of any endocrine-disrupting chemicals, can be.”

It is unclear why or how the phthalates are getting into olive oils, however, it could come from a variety of manufacturing, storage or packaging processes as the chemicals can be found coating food contact materials, in packaging plastic or PVC, lubricants, and other products.

Which olive oils contained phthalates?   

Mamavation found evidence of PFAS in popular olive oil brands including Cobram Estate, California Olive Ranch, Lucini Organic and others.

For the full list of which olive oils had phthalates, check out the report at Mamavation.

And check out the ongoing effort by Mamavation and to identify PFAS in common consumer products. Follow our PFAS testing project with Mamavation at the series landing page.