`Council Experts Scrutinize Olive Oil Testing Methods - Olive Oil Times

Council Experts Scrutinize Olive Oil Testing Methods

By Julie Butler
Mar. 22, 2012 09:10 UTC

Experts who advise the International Olive Council on the chem­i­cal analy­sis of olive oil are meet­ing in its Madrid head­quar­ters today (March 23) and tomor­row to dis­cuss issues includ­ing the results of recent tri­als of test­ing meth­ods.

Asked for details of the agenda and who would attend, an IOC spokes­woman said the meet­ing was strictly reserved for experts des­ig­nated by IOC mem­ber coun­tries. About 40 were expected to attend and no observers were per­mit­ted.

The results of ongo­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive tri­als orga­nized by the IOC — to check the reli­a­bil­ity of, and to val­i­date, tests — would be dis­cussed and the group would review new and exist­ing meth­ods of analy­sis designed to improve the qual­ity and authen­tic­ity of olive oils and olive pomace oils.

It will also estab­lish pri­or­i­ties for its future work in the area of olive chem­istry and stan­dard­iza­tion,” she said.

The meet­ing comes at a time of con­sid­er­able upheaval in the olive oil sec­tor glob­ally. American olive oil pro­duc­ers are draft­ing a fed­eral mar­ket­ing order that would set higher qual­ity stan­dards, rede­fine grades and require new test­ing of all olive oil pro­duced there. And Australia has already set up its own olive oil stan­dard — which it says includes the most cur­rent and effec­tive test­ing meth­ods for qual­ity and authen­tic­ity — and South Africa has said it will adopt the same.

The European Commission is also review­ing its olive oil test­ing rules. EC Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloş said ear­lier this year that it had begun con­sul­ta­tion over pos­si­ble changes. He was respond­ing to an Italian call for the alkyl esters para­me­ter for EVOO to be low­ered.

Meanwhile within Spain there has also been debate over the accu­racy and impor­tance of the organolep­tic test­ing done by taste pan­els.

According to a doc­u­ment on the IOC’s web site enti­tled Expert Groups on Olive Oil Chemistry and Standards”, the IOC cur­rently has ten tech­ni­cal groups in the area of chem­istry, respon­si­ble for mat­ters includ­ing:

  • chem­i­cal test­ing meth­ods, lim­its for the var­i­ous grades of olive oil and olive pomace oil and har­mon­i­sa­tion of stan­dards
  • meth­ods of analy­sis for the deter­mi­na­tion of con­t­a­m­i­nant residues in olive oils
  • issues relat­ing to organolep­tic assess­ment of vir­gin olive oil, and
  • labelling

It says that the group of chem­istry experts on meth­ods of analy­sis for olive oils and olive pomace oils” is made up of experts from IOC mem­ber coun­tries and from national and inter­na­tional stan­dards agen­cies and meets twice a year to study chem­i­cal meth­ods of analy­sis and other top­ics con­cern­ing the IOC trade stan­dard.

To see the list of IOC chem­istry experts (in French and Engish and titled Groupes d’experts en matière de chimie oléi­cole et normes”), click here.


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