Business

American Lab Recertified by Olive Council

Eurofins remains the only privately owned American laboratory to receive the IOC recognition.

Dec. 13, 2017
By Daniel Dawson

Recent News

The International Olive Council (IOC) has released its list of cer­ti­fied physic­o­chem­i­cal test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries for 2017.

One hun­dred and five cer­ti­fi­ca­tions were awarded to 74 lab­o­ra­to­ries in 15 coun­tries. Spain led the way with 34 cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for 20 labs.

When there’s a com­mer­cial trans­ac­tion, the buyer has a right to require test­ing by the IOC stan­dard to verify that it meets the IOC def­i­n­i­tion of extra virgin.- John Reuther, Eurofins Central Analytical Lab

Three types of cer­ti­fi­ca­tions were awarded by the IOC: basic test­ing, advanced test­ing and residue and con­t­a­m­i­nant test­ing. However, the advanced test­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is the only one that is com­mer­cially required for both olive oil qual­ity and authen­tic­ity.
See more: ‘Olive Oil Test’ Portal Simplifies Quality Testing
“Advanced test­ing is com­posed of authen­tic­ity related tests such as fatty acid pro­files and per­ox­ide values,” John Reuther, pres­i­dent of Eurofins Central Analytical Lab, said. “Those are all com­mer­cially required tests for trade.”

The IOC awarded 71 cer­ti­fi­ca­tions for advanced test­ing recog­ni­tion. Laboratories cer­ti­fied to do advanced test­ing span the Mediterranean region and extend all the way to Canada and China. The Madrid-based orga­ni­za­tion also released its list of approved sen­sory labs. There were no U.S. labs among those accred­ited.

Eurofins remains the only pri­vately-owned American lab­o­ra­tory to receive the IOC recog­ni­tion. The com­pany has part­nered with Olive Oil Times to offer its olive oil test­ing ser­vices via the online test­ing portal oliveoiltest.com.

Advertisement

The only other American lab that received cer­ti­fi­ca­tion this year belongs to the New York-based sub­sidiary of the Sovena Group, a Portuguese olive oil pro­ducer.

Reuther said that the groundswell of inter­est in olive oil authen­tic­ity led the lab to seek cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, which it received last year for the first time.

“Most of the olive oil that is used in the US is imported and thus falls under an inter­na­tional stan­dard,” he said. “In order for us to pro­vide data on those types of prod­ucts we really needed to be a rec­og­nized lab­o­ra­tory. If some­one in the US is buying olive oil from a for­eign sup­plier, that sup­plier would not rec­og­nize our data unless we were cer­ti­fied.”

Advertisement

Reuther’s lab deals with both domes­tic olive oil that is being exported and for­eign olive oil that is being imported. He said the lab’s job is to make sure every­one is get­ting what they bar­gained for.

“When there’s a com­mer­cial trans­ac­tion, the buyer has a right to require test­ing by the IOC stan­dard to verify that it meets the IOC def­i­n­i­tion of extra virgin,” he said. “Before that trans­ac­tion occurs, the sample would be sent to a lab to verify that it meets that stan­dard.”

Advertisement

Olive oil pur­chasers, whole­salers, super­mar­kets, pri­vate label­ers, con­sumer advo­cate groups and media orga­ni­za­tions are among the dif­fer­ent types of com­pa­nies that send olive oil sam­ples to be tested in these labs.

In addi­tion to the 71 advanced test­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, 10 basic test­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and 24 residue and con­t­a­m­i­nant test­ing recog­ni­tions were awarded by the IOC.

Basic test­ing looks at crit­i­cal olive oil qual­ity para­me­ters, while residue and con­t­a­m­i­nant test­ing is tar­geted at con­t­a­m­i­na­tion that may occur during pro­cess­ing or be left over from pes­ti­cide appli­ca­tion.

Normally com­pa­nies that buy and sell olive oil are not required to have either cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for their prod­ucts.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process for IOC approval can be timely and expen­sive, depend­ing on the pre-exist­ing capa­bil­i­ties of the lab.

The lab’s tech­niques must be ISO/IEC 17025 accred­ited, which is an inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized norm and demon­strates that the lab is tech­ni­cally com­pe­tent. The lab must also have a cer­tain min­i­mum level of staff expe­ri­ence and equip­ment.

Once all the paper­work is filled out, then the IOC sends out test sam­ples to the lab.

Advertisement

“They send pro­fi­ciency sam­ples — actual olive oil sam­ples — for us to test as part of a pro­fi­ciency study,” Reuther said. “That hap­pens once a year. We submit the results to the IOC and then they grade us. If we pass then we’re allowed to con­tinue on as a rec­og­nized lab.”

According to Reuther, there are many labs in the US that test olive oil, but whose tech­niques are not ISO/IEC 17025 accred­ited. IOC recog­ni­tion is not required for domes­ti­cally pro­duced and traded olive oil.

However, Reuther pre­dicts that more pri­vate lab­o­ra­to­ries will seek IOC recog­ni­tion over time. This would likely be driven by America’s bur­geon­ing hunger for and increas­ing pro­duc­tion of olive oil.