The standard’s drafting leader Leandro Ravetti said that while he was unable to comment while the draft standard was open for public comment, Standards Australia and the committee working on the olive oil standard take all matters, particularly any accusation involving technical barriers to trade, very seriously.
He also mentioned that the IOC comment is just one of hundreds of comments received so far.
Dr. Gawel also criticized the IOC for failing to provide data that support its rationales, such as how it sets campesterol limits. IOC’s response to the draft standard provides a table entry entitled “reference documents”, which provides a link to the home page of its own website, which does not list any reference documents on how their limits are set.
“What is important is why campesterol is set at 4 percent rather than 4.5 or 4.8 or even 2 percent,” Dr. Gawel said. “No one argues that campesterol is found in higher levels in seed oils than olive oil, so that very high campesterol levels in olive oils can be seen as a smoking gun for adulteration.
“However, by its nature, this sort of evidence is circumstantial. Different EVOOs vary naturally in this component and do so quite substantially. So the real question is exactly how much circumstantial evidence is required before it becomes a hangable offence?” He says the Australian standard has actually publically provided data to support its rationale.
“[IOC’s] claims of being ‘the premier world organization overseeing olive oil’ don’t go any way to supporting their case. Surely if they were confident of their case, they would be splashing the data around everywhere for all and sundry to see.”
Paul Miller, President of the Australian Olive Association, said while he hasn’t seen the IOC response as he is in Malaysia at the Codex Alimentarius Fats and Oils Committee in support of the Australian government delegation dealing with some olive oil matters, he is certain that the process of developing such a standard in Australia is a comprehensive and competent one.
“From what I have been told the IOC comments seem to be effectively critical of the process,” he said.