A trade group representing olive oil importers sued television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz on Tuesday under a largely untested Georgia food libel law, objecting to his claims that much of the imported extra virgin olive oil sold in U.S. supermarkets may be fake.
The New Jersey-based North American Olive Oil Association filed the lawsuit in state court in Fulton County, Georgia, seeking an unspecified amount in damages and payment for the group’s legal fees. Some members of the trade group conduct business in Georgia.
The suit said Oz, host of a popular daytime TV talk show devoted to health issues, violated the Georgia law when he stated that 80 percent of the extra virgin oil sold in supermarkets “isn’t the real deal” and “may even be fake,” claims the organization called untrue.
Georgia is among 13 U.S. states that have food libel laws that generally have a lower legal burden than traditional libel laws. These laws make it easier for food companies to sue people who make disparaging remarks about their products.