`Busy Year for Olive Oil Trade Group - Olive Oil Times

Busy Year for Olive Oil Trade Group

May. 7, 2013
Nancy Flagg

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John Sessler (left), chair­man of the American Olive Oil Association, at the United States International Trade Commission in Washington last December

It was a year of unprece­dented activ­ity” for the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), accord­ing to its chair­man, John Sessler. In the trade group’s 2012 annual report dis­trib­uted last week, Sessler cited four key devel­op­ments in the olive oil indus­try and NAOOA’s involve­ment.

Marketing order

Domestic olive oil pro­duc­ers dis­cussed propos­ing a mar­ket­ing order for olive oil. Sessler said the NAOOA pointed out to the indus­try, Congress and gov­ern­ment offi­cials that a mar­ket­ing order could poten­tially be applied not only to domes­tic but also to imported oil and that this would cause huge trade dis­rup­tions.”

USITC Investigation


Congress requested that the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) inves­ti­gate trade issues that affect the domes­tic olive oil indus­try. Sessler noted that the USITC report is due in August and that Commission reports can some­times spark calls for action, such as an antidump­ing duty peti­tion.”

Although the NAOOA sees this as an unlikely out­come, it par­tic­i­pated in the Commission hear­ings to ensure that the USITC had as much infor­ma­tion as pos­si­ble to get a full pic­ture of the indus­try,” said Eryn Balch, NAOOA’s exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent.

Pesticide residues

Only three pes­ti­cides and their residue tol­er­ance lev­els for olive oil have been set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while the European Union has set very strict tol­er­ances for pes­ti­cide residues” for a much broader spec­trum of pes­ti­cides, said Balch. When an EU coun­try ships oil to the U.S., the oil may con­tain pes­ti­cide residues that are well below those thresh­olds,” how­ever if the pes­ti­cides are not one of the three on the EPA list, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which enforces EPA stan­dards, can hold up the ship­ment.

Olive Oil Times recently reported that 98 con­tain­ers of olive oil shipped from Italy were detained by the FDA for traces of chlor­pyri­fos. The pes­ti­cide lev­els met EU stan­dards but since EPA stan­dards are silent on chlor­pyri­fos, the oil is con­sid­ered adul­ter­ated until proven oth­er­wise.

The NAOOA believes that this is an issue that shows the need for har­mo­nized stan­dards on glob­ally traded prod­ucts,” explained Balch.

Quality Control

The NAOOA con­ducts a qual­ity con­trol pro­gram in which ran­dom sam­ples of oils are drawn from store shelves and sent to International Olive Council (IOC) labs for test­ing. The pro­gram revealed some label­ing issues that have been brought to the atten­tion of pro­duc­ers for cor­rec­tive action, noted Sessler. In a case that is ongo­ing, the NAOOA filed a law­suit against an olive oil maker for sell­ing olive pomace oil as 100 per­cent olive oil.”


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