` Andalucía Tests Olive Oil Production to Combat Fraud - Olive Oil Times

Andalucía Tests Olive Oil Production to Combat Fraud

Jun. 8, 2010
Daniel Williams

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Spanish extra vir­gin olive oil, made widely acces­si­ble to the pub­lic thanks to low-cost bulk bot­tling, is rais­ing con­cern from voices within Spain’s oil pro­duc­ing sec­tor. The Andalucían Government, respond­ing to these con­cerns, is cur­rently imple­ment­ing mea­sures to con­trol the pos­si­ble exis­tence of altered, adul­ter­ated, or fraud­u­lent olive oil prod­ucts.

In Andalucía, the Health Ministry, at the behest of the General Office of Consumers, is cur­rently col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Agricultural Ministry to wage a com­pre­hen­sive cam­paign to inspect the qual­ity of olive oil avail­able to con­sumers through­out the region. The objec­tive of the cam­paign is to assess the qual­ity of olive oil from low-cost pro­duc­ers, some­thing that has been called into ques­tion repeat­edly as prices con­tinue to plum­met. The inspec­tions are already under­way in the provinces of Jaén and Córdoba– the two largest cen­ters of Andalucían olive oil pro­duc­tion. In past cam­paigns, only 5% of the olive oil that was ana­lyzed received a pos­i­tive rat­ing from inspec­tors.

During this process, bot­tles of all sizes and qual­ity will undergo ran­dom inspec­tions. Samples are ana­lyzed in lab­o­ra­to­ries at the Ministry of Agriculture and undergo var­i­ous tests which look to ver­ify claims made by the label­ing. The process ensures that the claims on these labels match the actual qual­ity of the prod­uct inside. The inspec­tion also looks to con­firm that the bottle’s seal has remained intact and that the olive oil is hith­erto untouched. The lab­o­ra­tory stud­ies the chem­i­cal makeup of the olive oil, not­ing its acid­ity and fatty acid con­tent among other fac­tors, and then makes a final assess­ment of whether the qual­ity of the prod­uct matches its adver­tis­ing. If a prod­uct fails inspec­tion, the com­pany is assessed with fraud and receives the appro­pri­ate sanc­tion.

90% of these inves­ti­ga­tions exam­ine prod­ucts that adver­tise them­selves as Extra Virgin or Virgin olive oil. Investigators are par­tic­u­larly keen to test olive oil prod­ucts that are sold in bulk, like those found at major gro­cery stores. The inspec­tors will also play close atten­tion to brands that were shown to have adul­ter­ated prod­ucts in the past as well as smaller, unknown brands that have been sell­ing olive oil at well-below the mar­ket price.

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