`Chemists' Society Offers Proficiency Testing for Olive Oil Sensory Panels - Olive Oil Times

Chemists' Society Offers Proficiency Testing for Olive Oil Sensory Panels

Jul. 30, 2012
Catherine Watkins

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Olive oil sen­sory pan­els around the world that can­not com­ply with International Olive Council (IOC) require­ments have a new way to gauge their pro­fi­ciency: the Olive Oil Sensory Panel Proficiency Testing Series by the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS). The new series was devel­oped based on input from the AOCS Olive Oil Expert Panel.

AOCS does not intend to draw away par­tic­i­pants from the estab­lished International Olive Council (IOC) sen­sory pro­fi­ciency pro­gram by cre­at­ing a com­pet­ing pro­gram,” said AOCS Technical Director Richard Cantrill. But because olive oil qual­ity is an issue that is impor­tant to our mem­ber­ship, we were asked by indus­try to develop a panel test­ing series. We antic­i­pate that some pan­els will join both the IOC and AOCS schemes, thus pro­vid­ing a bridge between the two pro­grams.”

Identification as an AOCS-Recognized Olive Oil Sensory Panel will give the top per­form­ing sen­sory pan­els an oppor­tu­nity to demon­strate to olive oil pro­duc­ers, retail­ers, and importers that they are accu­rately assess­ing olive oil qual­ity. Tasting pan­els are man­dated by IOC olive oil stan­dards and are crit­i­cal in the olive oil indus­try because they help deter­mine an olive oil’s grade as extra vir­gin, vir­gin or lam­pante.

The impor­tance of olive oil qual­ity stan­dards was high­lighted by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) in a news release. The July 17, 2012, release announced that NAOOA had sub­mit­ted an updated peti­tion to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) call­ing for a detailed stan­dard of iden­tity for olive oil and olive-pomace oil prod­ucts.

The US olive oil indus­try has made sig­nif­i­cant progress related to stan­dards in recent years,” said Eryn Balch, NAOOA exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent. This progress sets a solid foun­da­tion for appli­ca­tion at a nation­ally man­dated level which would pro­vide a smooth route for enforce­ment.” Connecticut was the first state to adopt a detailed stan­dard of iden­tity for olive oil and olive-pomace oil in 2008, Balch noted in the state­ment, fol­lowed soon after by California. The next year, sim­i­lar stan­dards were adopted in New York and Oregon. Most recently, the US Department of Agriculture updated its vol­un­tary stan­dard in 2010.


A key fea­ture of all of these stan­dards is the require­ment for sen­sory eval­u­a­tion, thus increas­ing the need for pro­fi­cient sen­sory pan­els. The new AOCS sen­sory pro­fi­ciency series will con­sist of two rounds of test­ing in the first year, with par­tic­i­pa­tion dates of October 2012 and January 2013. Each test­ing round will con­sist of four sam­ples of 500 mil­li­liters each. Panels will be tested and scored accord­ing to IOC guide­lines COI/T20/Doc. No 15/Rev. 4 (November 2011). Qualifying pan­els will be pro­moted as being AOCS-Recognized Olive Oil Panels.

In intro­duc­ing the AOCS pro­gram, AOCS rec­og­nizes the great value of the work done by IOC in estab­lish­ing cri­te­ria for olive oil sen­sory analy­sis, and so we will require that pan­els use the rel­e­vant IOC stan­dards,” added Cantrill. Calculation of pro­fi­ciency will also be accord­ing to the rel­e­vant IOC stan­dards, thus ensur­ing com­pa­ra­bil­ity and trans­parency.”

AOCS wishes to act col­lab­o­ra­tively with IOC and other pro­fi­ciency test­ing enti­ties in pro­vid­ing addi­tional ser­vice to help train chemists in both the sen­sory and chem­i­cal analy­sis of dif­fer­ent grades of olive oil,” said Cantrill. As always, our aim is to improve the level of com­pe­tence and exper­tise to the ben­e­fit of the oils and fats indus­try world­wide.”

Enrollment for the October 2012 round of the new pro­gram will close on August 20. To reg­is­ter for the pro­fi­ciency series, visit the AOCS web­site.

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