`Council Says New Chemical Limits Will Improve Olive Oil Quality - Olive Oil Times

Council Says New Chemical Limits Will Improve Olive Oil Quality

May. 29, 2013
Julie Butler

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Tougher chem­i­cal para­me­ters for vir­gin olive oils are among a range of mea­sures approved this week by the main deci­sion-mak­ing body of the International Olive Council (IOC).

Passed by the IOC’s Council of Members, most of the changes are designed to improve qual­ity con­trol.

An increased tol­er­ance for campes­terol — the limit will rise from 4 to 4.5 per­cent — will help pre­vent the exclu­sion of gen­uine vir­gin oils with nat­u­rally higher lev­els of the sterol.

IOC Members finally con­clude 100th ses­sion


According to an IOC press release, the 100th ses­sion of the Council con­cluded on Monday, hav­ing passed a range of rec­om­men­da­tions from var­i­ous advi­sory com­mit­tees that had been pend­ing since the Council’s last meet­ing, in November, lost quo­rum when del­e­gates from Israel and Turkey walked out.

The new stan­dards, which would apply from the 2013/14 sea­son (start­ing in October) will con­tinue the ongo­ing improve­ment of the qual­ity con­trol of vir­gin olive oils,” it said.

Parameters chang­ing

Among the mea­sures are most of the changes to chem­i­cal para­me­ters and tests that European Union Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș had urged the IOC to expe­dite as part of his action plan for the E.U. olive oil sec­tor.

They include:

- Stigmastadienes limit: to be reduced from 0.10 to 0.05mg/kg for vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oils. (The Cioloș plan said this would improve detec­tion of other veg­etable oils in olive oils.)

- Alkyl esters: the max­i­mum level will fall from the cur­rent 75 mg/kg for the sum of ethyl plus methyl esters to 40mg/kg for only ethyl esters for 2013/14, then to 35mg/kg for 2014/15, and 30mg/kg from the start of 2015/16. (The Cioloș plan said a lower limit would fur­ther restrict use of deodorised oils.)

- The global method for detect­ing extra­ne­ous oils in olive oils will be adopted.

- Wax con­tent: will intro­duce a new limit of 150 mg/kg for the sum of C42, C44 and C46. (Wax con­tent was said to be a key indi­ca­tor of qual­ity and purity.)

- Myristic acid: the limit will be low­ered from 0.05 per­cent to 0.03 per­cent. (The Cioloș plan said this would improve detec­tion of palm oil.)

The IOC said other changes include:

- Provisional adop­tion of the method for the deter­mi­na­tion of alkyl esters and waxes with 3g of sil­ica

- Adoption of the method for the deter­mi­na­tion of the com­po­si­tion and con­tent of sterols and triter­pene dial­co­hols

- Adoption of a revised sen­sory eval­u­a­tion method. (No detail was given.)


Australia, with sup­port from Argentina, the United States and New Zealand had unsuc­cess­fully pushed for a 4.8 per­cent limit for campes­terol in the con­text of this year’s meet­ing of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils.

The IOC Council didn’t go that far but it did agree to a rise to 4.5 per­cent, under the con­di­tion that three deci­sion trees are used to ensure the authen­tic­ity of those vir­gin or extra vir­gin olive oils with lev­els of 4 – 4.5 per­cent, for exam­ple requir­ing they have a stig­mas­terol level of no more than 1.4 per­cent.

Uruguay is join­ing the IOC and Palestine wants to

On Tuesday, the Council also noted a mem­ber­ship appli­ca­tion from Palestine and asked the IOC’s exec­u­tive sec­re­tariat to pro­vide a legal opin­ion on the mat­ter.

The IOC said that on Wednesday the Council received the legal advice — with­out say­ing what it was — and that many mem­bers then expressed their posi­tion in favor of this mem­ber­ship.” A deci­sion on the appli­ca­tion would be taken at the lat­est at the Council’s 101st ses­sion, in November, it said.

Meanwhile, the mem­bers also noted the immi­nent mem­ber­ship of Uruguay.

Other busi­ness included har­mo­niza­tion of cus­tom codes

The IOC said that among the high­lights from an extra­or­di­nary meet­ing of the Council of Members on Tuesday and Wednesday were:

- A group will be set up to study the pos­si­bil­ity of har­mo­niz­ing cus­toms tar­iff codes between IOC mem­bers coun­tries in order to obtain more detailed data on inter­na­tional trade under the cur­rent gen­eral vir­gin olive oil head­ing (150 910).

- Another group will study a method for com­par­ing the cost of grow­ing olives for olive oil in dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

- The results of pro­mo­tion cam­paign in the U.S. and Canada in 2012 and planned activ­i­ties for one in Brazil this year and next year were reviewed.

- A pro­posal from Turkey to add light green fruiti­ness” to the cat­e­gories for the Mario Solinas extra vir­gin olive oil awards was approved.

- There was debate over the agree­ment on auto­con­trol” of the qual­ity of imported oils.

- The IOC’s finan­cial rules were mod­i­fied so that from next year some ini­tia­tives in non-mem­ber coun­tries may be eli­gi­ble for IOC fund­ing.

IOC back to busi­ness as usual

Since its bud­get for this year had not yet been approved when the Council’s sit­ting last November was aborted, the IOC has until now had to oper­ate with a clamp on its finan­cial activ­i­ties.

The adop­tion of the IOC bud­gets for 2013 will allow a return to the nor­mal rhythm of activ­ity,” it said.

On Thursday the first meet­ing of the work­ing group on the IOC’s future will be held in the lead-up to the expiry of the IOC’s cur­rent gov­ern­ing agree­ment at the end of next year.

Among issues on the table for the next agree­ment is allow­ing coun­tries where olive oil is con­sumed but not pro­duced to join the IOC.


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