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

Australia Leads New Push to Raise Campesterol Limit for Olive Oil

Jan. 22, 2013
Julie Butler

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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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