`International Olive Council Studying Oils Beyond the Limits of its Standard


International Olive Council Studying Oils Beyond the Limits of its Standard

Oct. 11, 2011
Curtis Cord

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In 2008, the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil’s group of expert chemists designed a study to gain a bet­ter under­stand­ing of olive oils that dis­played cer­tain para­me­ters beyond the lim­its allowed in the coun­cil’s trade stan­dards adopted five years ear­lier.

IOC mem­bers and non-mem­bers includ­ing the United States, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina were off­i­cally invited, via a 2009 Note Ver­bale, to help iden­tify the unique char­ac­ter­is­tics of their regional olive oils in a com­mon effort to improve the inter­na­tional stan­dard, pro­tect olive oil authen­tic­ity and pre­vent poten­tial fraud,” accord­ing to the coun­cil’s Exec­u­tive Sec­re­tariat.

The IOC said it had since made repeated requests for sam­ples to ana­lyze, even while some New World pro­duc­ers were busy draft­ing their own stan­dards to be more in line with local char­ac­ter­is­tics. Mean­while the IOC, which admit­ted its calls for action had yielded vary­ing degrees of suc­cess,” plans on pre­sent­ing the con­clu­sions of the study to the Coun­cil of Mem­bers for approval at its 100th ses­sion in Novem­ber, 2012.

The sam­ples they did man­age to col­lect were reviewed last week in the IOC offices at a meet­ing of the coun­cil’s work­ing group on olive oil com­po­si­tion — part of the bian­nual meet­ing of expert chemists that assem­ble in Madrid to dis­cuss a range of chem­istry and stan­dards-related busi­ness.

At this ses­sion the group exam­ined new test­ing meth­ods, dis­cussed the results of recent stud­ies and pro­posed pri­or­i­ties for future work.


It was their first meet­ing since Aus­tralia offi­cially eschewed inter­na­tional olive oil stan­dards by adopt­ing its own guide­lines, cre­at­ing a new mar­ket seg­ment for olive oil exporters through­out the world. Accord­ing to an IOC spokesper­son, the chemists assem­bled last week agreed on the impor­tance to bring stan­dards into line with eachother in order to pro­mote qual­ity, encour­age inter­na­tional trade and pro­tect con­sumers.”

Although they were invited, and have attended past ses­sions, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Aus­tralia, the USDA, FDA, the Cal­i­for­nia Olive Oil Coun­cil and the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis were absent from the meet­ing this year.

Atten­dees included rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Alge­ria, Argentina, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Por­tu­gal, Slove­nia, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jor­dan, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, as well as from the Amer­i­can Oil Chemists’ Soci­ety, Codex Ali­men­ta­r­ius, Inter­na­tional Orga­ni­za­tion for Stan­dard­iza­tion (ISO) and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

The group pro­posed pre­sent­ing the method for the deter­mi­na­tion of sterols and triter­pene dial­co­hols for defin­i­tive IOC adop­tion next month. The same method would be adopted by the ISO for olive oils.

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