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

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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.”

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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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