Olive oil is not only a food product, but a commodity that is extremely valuable. This agency previously showed that BDS leader and ISM activist Paul Larudee has laundered funds he sends to Gaza under the false name Arlington Market, but, besides this, Larudee has been involved for several years in selling “pure Palestinian extra-virgin olive oil” he bottles here in America by hand by as many ISM activists Larudee can sucker to work for free for him to do so. He arranges “olive oil bottling parties” where he gets BDS and ISM activists (other Israel haters) like himself to work for free bottling the olive oil that he sells at street fairs and especially on the Internet to benefit “Palestine.” Larudee not only makes his living doing this, but he has also developed over the years a lucrative business that raises money to ultimately fund Hamas (not to mention himself and BDS) through the illicit sales of olive oil he claims is the product of “poor Palestinian farmers”.
Olive oil fraud is such a good business that even the Mafia has been involved in production and exploitation. Trade experts have stated that more money can be made selling olive oil fraudulently than can be made with drugs. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Larudee, who should have been jailed years ago for aid and support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, continues to operate his olive oil scam in blatant violations of U.S. laws. What’s also distressing is that U.S. law enforcement, from the FBI to the FDA has been feckless in doing something about it.
The Israeli government controls exports of agricultural products from the Palestinian Authority (West Bank and Gaza) due to threats of terrorism by poisoning. Palestinian terror leaders have tried on more than one occasion to poison the Israeli water supply so the Israelis take this seriously.
Despite his advertised claims that the olive oil he sells is made by poor impoverished Palestinian farmers merely trying to eke out a living, the olive oil that Larudee and company have been hand bottling here in the US cannot be what he says it is. Israel until recently, in fact, did not allow the exportation of raw olives or olive paste from the Palestinian Authority for security reasons. In addition, Larudee falsely advertises and labels that his bottles contain “cold pressed pure extra virgin olive oil” from “Palestine.”
Research into the olive oil trade has revealed that Larudee is more likely purchasing olives within the US market then bottling them, selling the oil as “Palestinian” olive oil to an unwary public. Industry experts advise that olive oil, especially the pure extra virgin kind is very difficult to import because it spoils within two days of the produce being picked. Likewise, any oil bottled at the growth site spoils during shipment by sea on pallets.
The National Olive Oil Association of America (NAOOA.org) is the trade group that seeks to assure quality and responsibility in the USA while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for olive oil standards. The USDA defines olive oil grading in much the same way as the International Olive Council IOC, but while the standards are voluntary in Europe, in the USA it is fraud if there is a claim of USDA grade on the bottle label or case.
Larudee deceptively puts on his labels “USDA Organic” which has a different meaning than most consumers understand. In fact, the FDA does set the standards for the USA which extends to using processing facilities that Larudee has consistently violated. Nor does he provide proof of such certification on his labels (probably because none exists). Of more importance, bottled olive oil is required in the U.S. to have nutritional information on the outside label. Larudee does not provide these guides among his many violations.
The FDA requires that bottled olive oil be processed in an FDA approved facility that receives twice yearly inspections by FDA. The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the food regulatory agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, to take steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food-related emergencies.
Larudee has been rubbing elbows with designated terrorist group Hamas for years. There are even photos of him shaking hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah and on another occasion his receiving an award from the terrorist group. Larudee was also caught and deported from Israel when he went there to meet with Hamas operatives, later going to Lebanon to work with Hezbollah, another designated terrorist group. More recently funds he sought to send to Hamas infested Gaza were frozen then returned to him by Mellon Bank due to suspicions of laundering funds for terrorism. The FBI did nothing.
Larudee routinely bottles his olive oil in an old ramshackle house in Berkeley, California known as the Grassroots House, a shared meeting house with other radical and/or communist groups a few blocks from the UC Berkley campus. In the past, he sometimes did so from his home in Emeryville, California. He prepares the olive oil in a shared communal kitchen in the Berkeley building with no FDA clearing for sanitation. His pro-BDS volunteers who help him wear no hair nets and there is no making sure they even wash their hands, or follow minimum sanitation requirements.
The Federal Trade Commission also requires truth in labeling for olive oil products, another violation by Larudee and his BDS gang. Mislabeling of olive oil is a continuing problem according to the FTC. FTC regulations state “The FTC and the FDA have overlapping jurisdiction to regulate the advertising and labeling of foods. Section 403(a) of the FDCA prohibits the ‘misbranding’ of food which includes labeling that ‘is false or misleading in any particular. This shared jurisdiction over labeling and advertising of food products operates pursuant to a longstanding Memorandum of Understanding between the agencies. Under this agreement, the FDA exercises primary responsibility for regulating food labeling, while the FTC assumes primary responsibility for ensuring that advertising of food products is truthful and not misleading.
Larudee’s olive oil bottle labels read that his Hurriya bottled olive oil is “pure extra virgin olive oil” when it is not. To verify this mislabeling, this news agency hired Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco, an FDA approved food testing facility. Testing just one bottle of Larudee’s olive oil cost over $400 which professional olive oil bottlers and producers pay regularly to assure FDA quality for the end user. Each new lot of olive oil requires such sample testing. In fact, such testing can be like playing the whack-a-mole game where one bottle might pass while others are not the same quality. The difference between “extra virgin olive oil” and lesser quality oil is determined by the acidity level in the oil. Cheaters who intentionally mislabel their products’ acidity levels are guilty of fraud according to the FDA and FTC rules.
In the case of the Hurriya olive oil test, the acidity level showed that Larudee’s product is not the extra virgin quality claimed on the label. Genuine “extra virgin olive oil” usually commands a higher price from consumers, about $20 a bottle on average. Larudee charges $20 per bottle for his product, part of the proceeds going into his own pocket besides helping to fund the BDS movement or generating money to be sent to Gaza and potentially Hamas. The test noted excessive amounts of filth patently visible in the bottle and that it was not extra virgin olive oil at all.
Besides cheating buyers of his olive oil, Larudee and his Norcal-ISM that produce the product are also cheating the public out of tax dollars due on sales. Queries given to the city finance and business tax collection and health departments of both the cities of Berkeley and El Cerrito, Ca., require that sales be reported on a regular basis to compute business taxes owed. Both cities reported that not only does Larudee not have a permit to bottle olive oil from the city or county health departments (nor from the state of California), he has been cheating these government agencies and the public out of taxes due on sales. Other businesses are required to report their sales to pay city taxes based on those numbers that he has avoided for at least the last ten years. This also means he is not reporting those numbers to the IRS on a federal level. While his Norcal ISM has nonprofit tax status as an “educational nonprofit,” he nevertheless is required to keep records and report his sales when he is engaged in selling a product for profit in case of a necessary recall if a threat to the public health emerges. Larudee does not do this.
So here we have a booster for the Hamas terrorist group bottling his product in a non-sterile FDA approved kitchen in Berkeley or Emeryville where he resides, misrepresenting his bottled product through fraudulent labeling and evading taxes to benefit the BDS Movement and himself. Larudee once wrote a letter about his pleasure at sleeping in the bed of a suicide bomber and stated he recognizes the Palestinians’ right to violence to achieve their goals. Most people would not feel comfortable consuming a food product prepared by a Hamas apparatchik if they knew more about it. Would you want someone who works closely with Hamas preparing your food?
California has just begun clamping down on misrepresented olive oil products like Larudee sells to fund the BDS Movement. This might explain why he is now looking to import pre-bottled olive oil from a Palestine Fair Trade Association set up by the PLO to bypass scrutiny in the U.S. market. Importing pre-bottled olive oil usually means the product will not have the freshness needed to assure proper quality as required in the U.S. market that the EU is more willing to overlook. The EU is also more willing to overlook misrepresentation of the olive oil product. The Palestine Fair Trade Association website says that olive oil will be certified as labeled properly through the “Fair Trade Labeling Association of Germany” (FLO), yet only a few lines later reads, “FLO has not yet developed international product specific guidelines for olive oil.”
One thing is certain: the likelihood of Paul Larudee and his BDS activists at Norcal ISM providing a corrected product to the consuming public is very remote. Current U.S. FDA standards for bottling and labeling olive oil must be adhered to in the U.S. market for health and consumer products and Larudee’s using a shill trade association administered by the PLO government in Jenin is unlikely to change past practices of ignoring uncleanliness, mislabeling and tax evasion. Larudee has long violated U.S. Customs regulations also that require that bottled olive oil products as sold by Larudee’s Nor-Cal ISM to raise funds for BDS must say “product of the West Bank” (a recent political development since U.S. Customs used to require they read “Made in Israel”). Currently, and for over 10 years, Larudee’s bottles have been labeled “Produced by Palestinian farmers in Israeli occupied Palestine and packed by volunteers of the International Solidarity Movement in Berkeley, California.”.
By bringing in pre-bottled goods as he suggests he will be doing, Larudee risks bringing in spoiled olive oil because the transport time for the oil will result in spoilage. Despite being sent via “Palestine Fair Trade Association,” the labels also state the product is packed in the United States requiring the same permits, health and sanitation inspections and true labeling that Larudee to date has not been doing, not to mention tax reporting on sales. Even if he continues bottling the oil here and selling it, repeated violations of U.S. Custom requirements on truth in labeling calls for such bottles if imported to be destroyed on entry to the United States.
Readers are encouraged to send copies of this article to the enforcement agencies below to hopefully see some action with the change in a new administration coming in Washington. In particular, U.S. Customs has a new e-allegation email system readers can write to electronically. A US Customs source has recommended this article be copied simultaneously to the reader’s congressional representatives.
Office of International Trade,
U.S. Customs and Border Protection,
1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, ATTN: 1400 L-11,
Washington, DC 20229.
Ph. 800 232-5378
2.California Dept. of Health re: Olive Oil complaint line
(800) 495-3232 ext. 5
3.FDA Compliance and Enforcement: http://www.fda.gov/food/complianceEnforcement/default.htm
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993
4.Federal Trade Commission (labeling)
Bureau of Consumer Protection
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20580
Phone (202) 326-2222
5. City of Berkeley Finance Department Business Licenses and Taxes:
1947 Center Street, Berkeley, CA 94704
TEL: (510) 981-7200, TDD: (510) 981-7250, FAX: (510) 981-7210
Office Hours: Mon-Thurs, 8:30am-4:00pm, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Revenue collection: Mila Serna, Supervisor
Phone: (510) 981-7272 ;
Phone: (510) 981-7200
Fax: (510) 981-7210
6. City of El Cerrito Finance Department Business Licenses and Taxes:
Report a concern:
Investigations – Financial Crimes
Detective J.T. Wahrlich
El Cerrito, CA 94530