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.

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.


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