`New Seal Program Aims to Regain Consumer Confidence - Olive Oil Times

New Seal Program Aims to Regain Consumer Confidence

Apr. 11, 2013
Nancy Flagg

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Extra vir­gin olive oil con­sumers have lim­ited options for deter­min­ing if their money is being spent on the real thing. Even if they know that they should check the olive oil bot­tle for fresh­ness dates or a seal of approval from a reli­able agency, there could still be qual­ity issues that occur, such as those caused by improper han­dling.

Extra Virgin Alliance (EVA) is a new orga­ni­za­tion founded by Paul Miller, the pres­i­dent of the Australian Olive Association and Alexandra Kicenik Devarenne, an olive oil con­sul­tant and edu­ca­tor. EVA is a non-profit trade asso­ci­a­tion with the goal of restor­ing trust in the mar­ket­place.

Producers world­wide who agree to prod­uct test­ing and who meet stan­dards can earn the EVA Mark of Quality and Authenticity. A seal or guar­an­tee is the only way for peo­ple to get assur­ance that they are get­ting what they think they are get­ting,” said Miller.

What dis­tin­guishes the EVA pro­gram from some oth­ers is its focus on qual­ity on the shelf,” Miller said. Assessing oil when it is made is one thing, but there are many chances for qual­ity to be com­pro­mised after that point, such as in the ship­ping process or through issues with the retailer, he noted.

In the EVA pro­gram, par­tic­i­pat­ing pro­duc­ers would indi­cate a Best Before” date on their olive oils. Third-party audi­tors would pur­chase oils from mar­ket shelves before that date and test them for com­pli­ance with EVA stan­dards. Testing to meet EVA stan­dards would include both chem­istry and sen­sory analy­ses.

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Kicenik Devarenne indi­cated that most cur­rent sen­sory analy­ses focus on the detec­tion of defects. The EVA test will go fur­ther and include descrip­tive analy­ses of the pos­i­tive side so that pro­duc­ers and con­sumers can bet­ter com­mu­ni­cate what the olive oils taste like and how to best use them.”

EVA intends to pro­vide con­sumer edu­ca­tion on their web­site, includ­ing infor­ma­tion on the pro­ducer and their oil’s fla­vor pro­files and best uses with food. The goal is to make the stan­dards more use­ful and mean­ing­ful tools,” Miller said.

There are already pro­duc­ers from six con­ti­nents and nine coun­tries who have become mem­bers of the pro­gram, accord­ing to EVA. It’s the pro­duc­ers who have the vision and can see that good olive oilpro­duc­ers from around the world have com­mon goals and com­mon prob­lems,” said Kicenik Devarenne.

Although other groups offer olive oil qual­ity seals, Miller believes that these groups will see the EVA pro­gram as a wel­come addi­tion. Many of the cer­ti­fiers are keen on denom­i­na­tion of ori­gin and this will help with that,” he said.

Miller said that qual­ity pro­duc­ers already lead by exam­ple and he pre­dicts that with their par­tic­i­pa­tion, EVA will improve the sup­ply chain and restore con­sumer trust.

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