`Australian Company Fined for Deceptive Olive Oil Labeling - Olive Oil Times

Australian Company Fined for Deceptive Olive Oil Labeling

Jun. 4, 2013
Julie Butler

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Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman Rod Sims

A prod­uct promi­nently labeled Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ and 100% Olive Oil’ — but that was 93 per­cent canola oil — has resulted in two fines total­ing AU$20,400 (US $19,850) for mis­lead­ing claims by MOI International, an Australian sub­sidiary of Malaysia-based MOI Foods.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Queensland-based MOI International imported the Mediterranean Blend’ oil from Malaysia and sold 3L tins of the oil in 2012 and 2013.

Fine print on the side of the con­tainer revealed the oil was 93 per cent canola oil and just seven per­cent extra vir­gin olive oil.

Consumers should be able to trust label

The term extra vir­gin’ is widely under­stood by con­sumers to mean a pre­mium prod­uct. Consumers should be able to trust that what’s on the label is what’s in the bot­tle when mak­ing pur­chas­ing deci­sions,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Traders who mis­lead con­sumers in this man­ner leave them­selves wide open to enforce­ment action from the ACCC,” he said.

Although there is no manda­tory stan­dard for extra vir­gin olive oil in Australia, it is widely accepted that it is the high­est grade oil obtained from the first press of the best qual­ity olives, it is not blended with other oil and that there are no sol­vents or refin­ing in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process,” an ACCC press release said.

Concern that Australian stan­dard not manda­tory

According to Australia’s Weekly Times, Australian Olive Association (AOA) chief exec­u­tive Lisa Rowntree said the AOA brought the olive oil to the atten­tion of the ACCC after a con­cerned con­sumer sent in a con­tainer of it.

Rowntree was quoted as dis­ap­pointed that more was not being done on olive oil adul­ter­ation and that the ACCC did not rec­og­nize the Australian Standard for Olive Oil (AS5264-2011) as manda­tory.

MOI touts its oil as ideal for shal­low fry­ing and sal­ads

MOI International has yet to respond to requests from Olive Oil Times for com­ment. Its web­site says its Mediterranean Blend’ oil is a blend of canola and olive oil, packed in a 3L tin that is easy to han­dle and can be poured with one hand. Ideal for shal­low or wok fry­ing and sal­ads.”

MOI International paid the fines on May 30. The pay­ment of infringe­ment notice penal­ties is not an admis­sion of con­tra­ven­tion of the Australian Consumer Law.

MOI Foods launched its Australian sub­sidiary in June 2000 and its New Zealand branch in July 2009. It is part of the palm oil giant Mewah Group.

In May last year, The Big Olive Company, in South Australian, paid two infringe­ment notices total­ing AUD$13,200 (US $12,850) for label­ing prod­ucts as extra vir­gin olive oil’, which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission con­sid­ered was mis­lead­ing.

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