`New Olive Oil Certification at Hebrew University

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New Olive Oil Certification at Hebrew University

Feb. 19, 2013
Naomi Tupper

Recent News

Stu­dents study­ing at the Hebrew Uni­ver­sity of Jerusalem in Israel will have the chance to increase their exper­tise in olive oil, a prod­uct of strong impor­tance for the coun­try and the uni­ver­sity, with the intro­duc­tion of a new olive oil cer­ti­fi­ca­tion course.

With recent olive oil adul­ter­ation scan­dals bring­ing the purity of some Israeli olive oils under scrutiny, experts in the indus­try have decided that such a course is nec­es­sary to the state in order to main­tain high qual­ity pro­duc­tion. Olive oil pro­duc­tion and export is of great eco­nomic impor­tance to Israel, which pro­duced around 18,000 tons in the last year. The prod­uct also has his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance to Jew­ish peo­ple, link­ing the rel­a­tively new state of Israel with its ancient bib­li­cal his­tory. It is a place where olive trees are con­sid­ered sacred and olive oil is seen as a sym­bol of abun­dance and health, with many events still ded­i­cated to the cel­e­bra­tion of the olive har­vest.

The major­ity of olive oil pro­duced in Israel is clas­si­fied as extra-vir­gin, the high­est of the olive oil grades, thus there is lit­tle room for error in terms of pro­duc­tion qual­ity and con­trol. How­ever, it is esti­mated that around 20 per­cent of the oil sold under this label is adul­ter­ated with cheaper oils . The aim of the intro­duc­tion of the new course is to edu­cate a new gen­er­a­tion of olive oil experts that are able to iden­tify dif­fer­ent oils accord­ing to inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized stan­dards.

The cur­ricu­lum will be aligned with the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil stan­dard and guide­lines, which will help grad­u­ates become mem­bers of inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions. Stu­dents who com­plete the new course will receive a license in olive oil exper­tise,” allow­ing them to tes­tify in Israeli and inter­na­tional courts as to olive oil qual­ity in sit­u­a­tions of dis­pute. This is seen as an essen­tial step in light of recent olive oil fraud prob­lems in the coun­try.

The Hebrew Uni­ver­sity of Jerusalem is already a lead­ing player in olive oil research, with the agri­cul­tural, bio­chem­i­cal and nutri­tion fac­ul­ties often under­tak­ing research projects inves­ti­gat­ing the prod­uct that is so impor­tant for the state.

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