`Olive Council Says Proposed Changes to Codex Standard Hinder Fraud Detection

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Olive Council Says Proposed Changes to Codex Standard Hinder Fraud Detection

Feb. 10, 2015
Isabel Putinja

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In prepa­ra­tion for the 24th ses­sion of the Codex Com­mit­tee on Fats and Oils, meet­ing this week in Melaka, Malaysia, the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) has pro­duced three papers which it has made pub­lic on its web­site.

Codex Ali­men­ta­r­ius is an inter­na­tional food stan­dards body which draws up world­wide stan­dards, guide­lines and codes of prac­tice in order to pro­tect con­sumer health and ensure fair prac­tices in the food trade. Its Com­mit­tee on Fats and Oils is respon­si­ble for the inter­na­tional stan­dards for fats and oils of ani­mal, veg­etable and marine ori­gin, includ­ing mar­garine and olive oil.

The IOC has been work­ing closely with the Com­mit­tee to achieve har­mo­niza­tion of the Codex stan­dards for olive oils and olive pomace oils with the IOC’s own stan­dards for these prod­ucts. These stan­dards define qual­ity and purity cri­te­ria for olive oils and olive pomace oils and spec­ify how these cri­te­ria should be assessed with the aim to safe­guard olive oil qual­ity, pre­vent adul­ter­ation and sat­isfy def­i­n­i­tions.

It was unclear whether IOC rep­re­sen­ta­tives were attend­ing the Malaysia meet­ing. Lack of funds pre­vented IOC direc­tor Jean-Louis Bar­jol from attend­ing the 2013 meet­ing of the Codex Fats and Oils com­mit­tee.

At the moment dis­crep­an­cies exist between the stan­dards of the two orga­ni­za­tions. At the upcom­ing meet­ing, two cri­te­ria used to deter­mine the purity and authen­tic­ity of olive oil will be dis­cussed: campes­terol and delta-7-stig­mas­tenol. These are phy­tos­terols whose chem­i­cal struc­ture is sim­i­lar to that of cho­les­terol.

The three papers have been pre­pared by the IOC at the request of Codex and will be dis­cussed at the meet­ing. Two of these out­line the results of the IOC’s own stud­ies car­ried out on campes­terol (PDF) and delta-7-stig­mas­tenol (PDF). The third is a response (PDF) by the IOC to a pro­posal by Aus­tralia to increase the lim­its of campes­terol and delta-7-stig­mas­tenol.

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IOC mem­bers are con­cerned that these pro­posed increases would make the pos­si­bil­ity of fraud detec­tion more dif­fi­cult. They rec­om­mend dis­cussing con­clu­sions that the IOC has reached based on an inves­ti­ga­tion of the test­ing results of sam­ples sup­plied by pro­duc­ing coun­tries which have led to the adop­tion of an IOC stan­dard.

The doc­u­ment pro­poses that Codex har­mo­nize its stan­dards with those of the IOC as well as the meth­ods for mea­sur­ing cri­te­ria. They also invite mem­bers of Codex to attend the meet­ings of the IOC chem­istry experts as observers and par­tic­i­pate in an elec­tronic work­ing group exam­in­ing these ques­tions.


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