N. America

IOC Weighs in on Davis Olive Oil Study

Jul. 27, 2010
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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The International Olive Council (IOC) released a state­ment today in response to the much-pub­li­cized UC Davis Olive Center report that found most sam­ples of imported extra virgin olive oils failed to meet inter­na­tional stan­dards for extra virgin clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

For its part, the IOC called the size of the sam­pling — 52 bot­tles and 19 brands — to be “not sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant.”  The state­ment went on to say that the IOC con­ducts chem­i­cal tests on “some 200 sam­ples of imported oils sold in the United States” each year and, accord­ing to IOC find­ings, anom­alies are detected in less than 10% of the imported oils ana­lyzed.  Any irreg­u­lar­i­ties are referred to the appro­pri­ate asso­ci­a­tion for nec­es­sary action.

Other com­plaints about the Davis study in the state­ment included:

  • Second, inde­pen­dent “check tests” were not per­formed to con­firm anom­alies.
  • The meth­ods used in the study (DGF and Australian stan­dards) were found to be unre­li­able by the IOC.
  • A cor­re­la­tion drawn between UV absorbance and sen­sory analy­sis in some of the sam­ples lacked sup­port.

The IOC state­ment was the latest response to the Davis study that scru­ti­nized 14 imported and 5 California brands of extra virgin olive oils bought at California super­mar­kets.  The sam­ples under­went tests in lab­o­ra­to­ries at the Davis campus and Australia.  Of all imported olive oil brands tested only one, Kirkland Organic, was found to pass the sen­sory tests with all three regional sam­ples col­lected.  As for the California brands just one, Bariani, exhib­ited sen­sory defects suf­fi­cient to fail extra virgin sen­sory stan­dards.

The report has received con­sid­er­able media cov­er­age as head­lines like “Nothing Extra About Imported Extra-Virgin Oil” (NBC) and “Lab Tests Cast doubt on Olive Oil’s Virginity” (LA Times) have made for atten­tion-grab­bing copy. Hundreds of out­lets have cov­ered the story since the report was first posted here nearly two weeks ago.

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The International Olive Council is the world’s only inter­na­tional inter­gov­ern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion in the field of olive oil and table olives. It was founded in Madrid, in 1959, under the aus­pices of the United Nations. It used to be known as the International Olive Oil Council or IOOC until 2006, when its name was changed.