In an industry fraught with counterfeits and misinformation, and in an age where the labeling of food (and food-like) products has come under intense scrutiny, the state of California’s Senator Lois Wolk, chair of the state’s Agriculture Subcommittee on Olive Oil Production and Emerging Products, has stepped up to address truth in labeling.
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law Bill 65, effectively reversing previous legislation that allowed olive oil producers to say their products were produced in California, or even to specify a particular region of California, even if the bulk of the product originated elsewhere.
The new standards established by the Olive Oil Commission of California, which examines and recommends grading and labeling practices and standards and passes along their findings to the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture, build from earlier legislation introduced by Wolk in 2013.
“If olive oil uses ‘California’ on the label, then 100 percent of the oil must be from olives grown in California. There must be truth in labeling,” Wolk said.
The new law further states that if a label indicates the product’s origin is a specific region in California, at least 85 percent of the oil, by weight, must be traceable to fruit grown specifically in that area. More stringently, any reference to a particular California estate requires that a minimum of 95 percent must be from olives grown on that estate.
“As California’s olive oil industry continues to grow, it is critical that labels accurately reflect the product consumers are buying,” Wolk said.