New standards for olive oil

Work is set to start later this month on a new Australian Standard for the olive oil industry.

Standards Australia, in collaboration with the Australian Olive Association, is working with relevant stakeholders, including retailers, consumer associations, government bodies and growers, to develop the Australian standard, which will ensure top quality for consumers and a level playing field for growers.

Colin Blair, CEO of Standards Australia, said consumers are often being misled into believing they are buying healthy products, such as extra virgin olive oil that is natural, fresh and unrefined, when they are not.

The new standard is expected to cover virgin olive oils, refined olive oils, olive-pomace olive oils and their blends imported or produced in Australia. It will set guidelines to provide for simpler and clearer labelling so to avoid misleading and confusing terms, as well as set benchmarks for the quality of olive oils purchased for health reasons.

Recent studies by the NSW Department of Primary Industry found that three out of the six leading imported Extra Virgin Oils carried inaccurate labelling. While a major study by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency found, on average, a quarter of inspected olive oils was adulterated.

In addition, a recent CHOICE survey of 28 brands of extra virgin olive oil sold in Australian supermarkets found that half didn’t meet widely accepted international standards.

Members of the recently formed Standards Australia Committee include representatives from the Australian Government Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, NSW Government Industry & Investment, The Oils & Fats Specialist Group of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry, Consumer Federation of Australia, Australian Olive Oil Association, Olives New Zealand and the Australian Olive Association.


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