Two olive oil organizations were present for the first time at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) that took place in Philadelphia last week. This annual conference is organized by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (former American Dietetic Association), the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

The conference drew more than 8,000 registered dietitians, nutrition science researchers, policy makers, and health-care providers along with more than 350 food and nutrition-related exhibitors. But even though olive oil is considered an ingredient with extensive health benefits, it had never really made an official appearance at the conference.

This year the North American Olive Oil Association and the International Olive Council were both exhibitors at the exposition increasing knowledge and appreciation of the healthfulness and the versatility of olive oil to dietitians and nutritionists.

Eryn Balch, vice president of the North American Olive Oil Association, said she was there to provide dietitians with an understanding of practical issues such as the different grades and types of olive oil, while promoting the use of olive oil through its health benefits and culinary uses.

The International Olive Council presented its North American campaign “Add Some Life” launched last year. According to Bernice Neumann, practice leader for food & nutrition of Exponent, the campaign focuses on bringing together olive oil and table olive professionals to discuss issues of interest to the olive industry, and it is geared to the consumer as well, sharing ways of making olives and olive oil a daily staple.

Neumann said the campaign has been focusing on the “influencers of the health and nutrition community,” because they are an important source of information for consumers who “need to change how they are eating and for those who want to adopt healthier eating practices.”

While most nutrition professionals know that olive oil is healthy, many questions and misconceptions remain even among nutritionists, about its health benefits and uses in the kitchen. The presence of the two organizations at FNCE was a new resource for the food and nutrition community at the conference.

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