Calling the second UC Davis Olive Center study the “same inexplicable criticism” that could cause “irreparable damage to the reputation of olive oil”, the International Olive Council shot back at researchers in California and Australia citing an “undercurrent of aggression.”
IOC Executive Director Jean-Louis Barjol, who only recently returned from the United States — his first official trip as director — expressed frustration in his statement that the Olive Center turned their newly-minted IOC-approved tasting panel against the international body and its members.
The director accused UC Davis researchers of cooperating only when it was convenient for them to do so, and called for all producing countries to “join the ranks” of IOC members in order to “find satisfactory solutions through constructive, all-around cooperation.”
With plans to launch this Summer a $1.7 million campaign to promote the use of olive oil in the United States and Canada, Mr. Barjol said in an interview last week that the U.S. and Australia seemed, in a sense, to be taking advantage of the IOC. “They use our laboratories every year; they attend our meetings and they come to be recognized by IOC for their competence in chemical and sensory characteristics”, he said.
The Davis and Australian researchers found that “the top-selling imported brands of ‘extra virgin’ olive oil sold in the United States and purchased at retail locations throughout California often failed the IOC’s sensory standards for extra virgin olive oil,” according to the report.
The study was conducted by the University of California at Davis’ Olive Center which is supported by the California Olive Oil Council and its members who stand to gain from the discrediting of imported olive oil. California olive oil producers provide about one percent of the olive oil consumed in the United States, but they are developing the capacity to supply much more than that.
In a letter to California Olive Oil Council members today, COOC President Brendon Flynn referred to the report as “an excellent opportunity to engage the public in a discussion about the benefits of purchasing olive oil from California producers” encouraging them to “capitalize on this moment.”
Meanwhile Bob Bauer, the director of the IOC-affiliated North American Olive Oil Association responded to the report saying in a statement today, “It’s revealing to note that the domestic olive oil industry has pushed for standards less stringent than the IOC standards that NAOOA members have adopted because they said their olive oils can’t meet those standards. Yet they use and emphasize subjective and rejected tests to try to make people believe imported oils don’t meet those more-stringent standards.”
“Consumers knew better than to accept the ‘findings’ in UC Davis’ last study and we expect the same will hold true again,” he added.