`New World Fails in Push to Raise Campesterol Limit for Olive Oil


New World Fails in Push to Raise Campesterol Limit for Olive Oil

Mar. 22, 2013
Julie Butler

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New World pro­duc­ers have again failed in a bid to raise the limit for campes­terol in olive oil, which they say acts as a trade bar­rier and dis­crim­i­nates against their authen­tic vir­gin olive oils.

Aus­tralia, with sup­port from coun­tries includ­ing the United States and Argentina, sought sup­port to start work on the move at the Codex Com­mit­tee on Fats and Oils (CCFO) meet­ing held in Malaysia Feb­ru­ary 25 to March 1.

They say the limit should be raised from 4 to 4.8 per­cent so as not to unfairly exclude oils that exceed it for sea­sonal, vari­etal or geo­cli­matic rea­sons.

But accord­ing to the Codex Ali­men­ta­r­ius Commission’s report on the meet­ing, there was nei­ther agree­ment to start work on the issue nor to estab­lish an elec­tronic work­ing group as a pre­lude. Some del­e­ga­tions had said the cur­rent limit was needed to detect adul­ter­ation and they advo­cated wait­ing for the results of a three-year Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) sur­vey of campes­terol lev­els, the report said.


IOC report still awaited

At the pre­vi­ous CCFO meet­ing, in 2011, the IOC del­e­ga­tion had argued that it had stud­ies under­way and it would have been pre­ma­ture for the Codex to act. The objec­tive of defer­ring dis­cus­sions on…campesterol until 2013 was achieved,” IOC exec­u­tive direc­tor Jean-Louis Bar­jol said in his report on that meet­ing.

But the IOC did not attend the lat­est meet­ing, cit­ing a pre­vi­ously reported bud­get prob­lem.

Sur­vey said to sup­port case for change

The del­e­ga­tion from IOC mem­ber coun­try Argentina, how­ever, told the CCFO that last Octo­ber the IOC’s chem­i­cal expert panel had rec­og­nized in a report on its sur­vey that gen­uine olive oils could present higher campes­terol lev­els than cur­rently spec­i­fied in the inter­na­tional stan­dard.”

While it had been expected that the last meet­ing of the IOC Coun­cil take a pos­i­tive deci­sion on amend­ing the accept­able campes­terol lev­els, other issues led to a lack of quo­rum at the clos­ing ses­sion leav­ing the adop­tion of all deci­sions pend­ing. For these rea­sons, the (Argen­tin­ian) del­e­ga­tion hoped that the IOC Coun­cil would shortly adopt a favor­able deci­sion in this regard before Codex would begin its work,” the Codex report said.

Asked by Olive Oil Times this week when its data would be released, the IOC sec­re­tariat said that the con­clu­sions of the study of the com­po­si­tion of vir­gin olive oil with anom­alous para­me­ters” was await­ing adop­tion by the 100th ses­sion of the IOC Coun­cil. Once the ses­sion had been con­cluded and the report adopted, it would be sent to Codex as agreed, it said.

Aus­tralia queries future of Codex

Dr. Rod­ney Mailer, research fel­low and adjunct pro­fes­sor at Aus­tralian Oils Research, attended the CCFO and told Olive Oil Times that Aus­tralia, the U.S. and Argentina had come to the meet­ing armed with over 1,600 results from sev­eral coun­tries prov­ing with­out doubt that campes­terol in many cul­ti­vars is reg­u­larly higher than the Codex stan­dard and there­fore we were being dis­crim­i­nated against in terms of trade.”

Mailer esti­mated that more than half of the coun­tries present voted to allow more work to help pro­duce more real­is­tic stan­dards for campes­terol” but he accused the Euro­pean Union mem­bers of vot­ing in a way that is clearly ben­e­fi­cial to them with lit­tle con­sid­er­a­tion for sci­ence or free­dom of trade.”

He said he was very dis­ap­pointed that the com­mit­tee chair­per­son con­cluded there was insuf­fi­cient sup­port for new work, an out­come that was unrep­re­sen­ta­tive of the desire to have this issue dis­cussed and real­is­tic out­comes obtained.”

Though inter­na­tional stan­dards are impor­tant for ease of trade and to work against fraud and poor prac­tice, this lat­est out­come from Codex fur­ther adds to many peo­ple’s feel­ings that Codex has lim­ited use­ful­ness,” he said.

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