Issues of adulteration of Extra Virgin Olive Oil are significant and well documented.1, 2 Numerous reports have shown that olive oil tops the list as the most adulterated food product worldwide and the food product most vulnerable to food fraud. Standards exist internationally to prevent Extra Virgin Olive Oil adulteration, and to guarantee the quality of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.1, 2
Below, are the details of some of the government and industry body related international standards, seals and certification programs:
International Olive Council (IOC)
|At an international level, the International Olive Council (IOC) supports international olive oil standards, and works to connect table olive and olive oil producers worldwide for the best interest of the olive industry.
The most widely accepted international standards for olive oils and olive pomace oils are:
Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA)
|This is a not for profit trade association representing producers of genuine Extra Virgin Olive Oil across the globe. The Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) uses practical chemical and sensory parameters to define quality, and takes into account the use of a best before date.
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In the USA, the Californian Olive Oil Council (COOC) provides olive oil grade certification. In order to achieve COOC certification, an oil must comply with requirements of both a chemical analysis and sensory evaluation.
Chemical analysis involves an assessment of the oils level of free fatty acids, which must be no more than 0.5%, with a peroxide value of 15 meq 02/kg or less.
Sensory analysis is undertaken by the COOC sensory panel, which is accredited by the American Oil Chemist’s Society (AOCS).
Protected Origin of Destination – Europe.
“Identifies products that are produced, processed and prepared in a specific geographical area, using the recognised know-how of local producers and ingredients from the region concerned. These are products whose characteristics are linked to their geographical origin. They must adhere to a precise set of specifications and may bear the PDO logo below.”
Australian Olive Association
In Australia, a voluntary third-party certification and Code of Practice Agreement was introduced in 2011, governed by the Australian Olive Association. It incorporates The Australian Standard for Olive Oils and Olive Pomace Oils – AS522-2011.
The Australian standard is more specific than international standards. It includes the International Olive Council Trade Standard which allows for two additional chemical tests not used elsewhere to detect freshness, quality, and whether an oil has been adulterated with a refined seed oil, inferior quality olive oil, old oil or in some cases, is a completely different oil all together.
The standard clearly defines the different grades of oil – whether natural or refined, includes the most current and effective testing methods for quality and authenticity and provides labeling requirements to minimize consumer confusion.
It also provides a basis for ‘best before’ claims and prevents deceptive and misleading terminology such as pure, light, extra light.
Companies that participate in this code of practice undergo chemical testing on a regular basis and must also pass the organoleptic (taste) test.
More information on the Code of Practice and certified Australian brands can be found here.
Australian Olive Oil Association
The Australian Olive Oil Association (AOOA) has introduced a Certified Quality Seal program in which oils that take part comply with the common International Olive Council Standards. Current oils included are not taking part in the Australian Olive Oil Association (AOA) standards, which includes more specific tests for quality, freshness and a best before date requirement.