`Australia Leads New Push to Raise Campesterol Limit for Olive Oil


Australia Leads New Push to Raise Campesterol Limit for Olive Oil

Jan. 22, 2013
Julie Butler

Recent News

New World pro­duc­ers are renew­ing a bid to raise the limit for campes­terol in olive oil to stop what they say acts as a trade bar­rier and dis­crim­i­nates against their authen­tic vir­gin olive oils.

Led by Aus­tralia and with sup­port from Argentina, the United States and New Zealand, they say the limit should be raised from 4 to 4.8 per­cent so as not to unfairly exclude oils that exceed it for sea­sonal, vari­etal or geo­cli­matic rea­sons.

In a dis­cus­sion paper for the Codex Com­mit­tee on Fats and Oils (CCFO) meet­ing to be held in Malaysia Feb­ru­ary 25 to March 1, they say the higher value would encom­pass the great major­ity of oils pro­duced from Barnea, Arbe­quina, Koreneiki, Cor­ni­cabra and sim­i­lar high-campes­terol vari­eties, regard­less of where in the world they are grown.”

The pro­duc­tion and trade of vir­gin olive oils from emerg­ing olive oil pro­duc­ing coun­tries is increas­ing sub­stan­tially. It is there­fore cru­cial for CCFO to exam­ine the evi­dence that clearly shows the cur­rent limit for campes­terol acts as a tech­ni­cal bar­rier to trade in vir­gin olive oils,” the paper says.


The limit for campes­terol (one of sev­eral sterols found in olive oil) is not rel­e­vant to pub­lic health but aimed at detect­ing adul­ter­ation of olive oils with other edi­ble oils.

Of 888 sam­ples col­lected in Aus­tralia over sev­eral years and a range of sea­sons and vari­eties, a third had a campes­terol level over 4 per­cent. How­ever, stud­ies there found genet­ics and envi­ron­ment play a big role in campes­terol lev­els and ruled out adul­ter­ation or poor oil qual­ity as causal fac­tors.

The paper says that in antic­i­pa­tion of the counter-argu­ment” that rais­ing the campes­terol limit would increase the risk of adul­ter­ation, the limit for another phe­nol, stig­mas­terol (exces­sive lev­els of which sug­gest the pres­ence of soy oil), should be tight­ened. The Codex stan­dard effec­tively allows up to 3.9 per­cent stig­mas­terol in olive oil but a lower max­i­mum of 1.9 per­cent is pro­posed.

While EU coun­tries, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Morocco are likely to remain the lead­ing exporters of olive oils in the near future, con­sid­er­able expan­sion of pro­duc­tion in a num­ber of other coun­tries (e.g., Argentina, Israel, Brazil, Repub­lic of South Africa, China and Aus­tralia) is likely to change trad­ing pat­terns in the medium term.”

As dif­fer­ent vari­eties emerge and pro­duc­tion occurs under new geo-cli­matic con­di­tions, the para­me­ters in the Codex stan­dard (in place since 1981) should be stan­dard­ized accord­ingly. the paper says.

IOC also study­ing campes­terol

At the last CCFO meet­ing, held in Feb­ru­ary 2011, a pro­posal to start work on amend­ing the campes­terol level failed to gain sup­port but the door was left open for new data jus­ti­fy­ing the move to be pre­sented in 2013.

Accord­ing to Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) exec­u­tive direc­tor Jean-Louis Barjol’s report on the meet­ing, With regard to…campesterol, all the IOC del­e­ga­tions agreed on stat­ing that IOC stud­ies were under­way and that it was pre­ma­ture for the Codex to act.”

The objec­tive of defer­ring dis­cus­sions on…campesterol until 2013 was achieved. Between now and then the IOC will have to under­take stud­ies to assem­ble a work­able database…and to explore real­is­tic avenues to solu­tions,” he wrote.

A pub­lic meet­ing to pro­vide infor­ma­tion and receive pub­lic com­ments on U.S. posi­tions for the com­ing Codex Com­mit­tee on Fats and Oils is to be held in Mary­land on Feb­ru­ary 5.

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