`Two Out of Three California Olive Oils Fail New Homegrown Standards, Report Finds

N. America

Two Out of Three California Olive Oils Fail New Homegrown Standards, Report Finds

May. 28, 2015
Olive Oil Times Staff

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Five years after Cal­i­for­nia olive oil pro­duc­ers spon­sored a study that found most imported olive oils tested failed to meet inter­na­tional stan­dards, a group rep­re­sent­ing importers has issued two reports of its own.

This time, ran­dom tests found that 67 per­cent of Cal­i­for­nia olive oils labeled as extra vir­gin fell short of the new qual­ity stan­dards devel­oped by the Olive Oil Com­mis­sion of Cal­i­for­nia (OOCC) and recently adopted by the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Food and Agri­cul­ture.

The North Amer­i­can Olive Oil Asso­ci­a­tion (NAOOA), a trade group rep­re­sent­ing bot­tlers and dis­trib­u­tors of imported olive oil, com­mis­sioned the reports to raise ques­tions about the new Cal­i­for­nia stan­dards, which it says were hastily devel­oped to avoid poten­tial oppo­si­tion and legal chal­lenges.

The first report, The Olive Oil Com­mis­sion of California’s 2014 Grade and Label­ing Stan­dards: Analy­sis & Impli­ca­tions, pre­pared by a for­mer U.S. chief agri­cul­tural nego­tia­tor, Islam A. Sid­diqui, blasted the new Cal­i­for­nia rules as being devised to gain a com­pet­i­tive edge, say­ing, It is expected to ben­e­fit large-scale (Cal­i­for­nia) producers/handlers, who have been behind this effort, to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their prod­uct from other olive oils, espe­cially those imported from other coun­tries.”

Not­ing that approx­i­mately 600 out of the 700 olive oil pro­duc­ers in Cal­i­for­nia pro­duce less than 5,000 gal­lons and are there­fore exempt from the new rules, the report argued, It is ironic that the OOCC stan­dard reg­u­lates only a por­tion of olive oil pro­duced in Cal­i­for­nia and exempts imported olive oil pro­duced in other states and coun­tries. It raises seri­ous ques­tions about the real intent behind the OOCC enabling leg­is­la­tion and the rush to imple­ment it in record time.”


To illus­trate its objec­tions to the OOCC stan­dards, their effec­tive­ness and the moti­va­tions behind them, a sep­a­rate report the NAOOA released today pre­sented the results of ran­dom test­ing of 18 Cal­i­for­nia extra vir­gin olive oils bought from store shelves. The study found two-thirds of the sam­ples failed at least one chem­i­cal mea­sure of the new OOCC rules.

The cor­ner­stones of the new OOCC stan­dards for fresh­ness and purity, the PPP and DAGs tests, appear to have cre­ated a sig­nif­i­cant hur­dle for Cal­i­for­nia pro­duc­ers to meet with off-the-shelf sam­ples, account­ing for 44 per­cent of the OOCC 67 per­cent fail­ure rate,” the report stated.

In a state­ment, NAOOA exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Eryn Balch said, The results raise sig­nif­i­cant ques­tions about the valid­ity of the OOCC stan­dards and con­firm the new tests incor­po­rated in the stan­dards are not reli­able.”

In July, 2010 the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis Olive Cen­ter released a land­mark study that found 69 per­cent of imported olive oils bought in sev­eral Cal­i­for­nia super­mar­kets failed to meet the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil stan­dards for the grade.

The Davis report has been cited ever since, often inac­cu­rately, to depict ram­pant fraud in the olive oil indus­try and as part of an ongo­ing cam­paign by Amer­i­can pro­duc­ers to chip away at the long­stand­ing mar­ket dom­i­nance held by imported brands.

In con­trast to the 2010 UC Davis report, the report released today did not men­tion the brand names of the sam­ples tested.

This is a break­ing news arti­cle: Check back for updates.

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