Testing by the Australian Olive Association has found that up to nine out of 10 imported olive oil brands are failing Australian standards and are labelled incorrectly.
During September 2011 and August 2013, the Association tested 106 imported oils from 40 brands and found that 77 percent of oils failed the Australian standard AS 5264-2011, with 93 percent of brands failing the standard for at least one product in their range. These findings are consistent findings published in Choice Magazine in 2010: that 80 percent of imported oils failed extra virgin standards.
Before releasing the Australian Standard for Olive Oil (AS 5264-2011) in July 2011, Australia was one of the few countries that didn’t have a published standard for olive oil. Today, supporting the Standard is a voluntary Code of Practice, designed to support quality, authenticity and confidence in the Australian olive industry and its products. Producers subscribing to this code carry a triangle certification symbol on their products.
Of all the mainstream edible oils, extra virgin olive oil is the only oil that has not been chemically or physically refined, and is 100 percent natural juice squeezed from fresh olive fruit, and represents 90 to 95 percent of olive oil produced in Australia.
Other countries, however, don’t subscribe to the same standards. In October 2013 the European Union admitted that when it comes to food fraud, olive oil is the most affected product, with fraud including anything from substituting Greek olive oil for Italian olive oil, to adding refined olive oils or cheaper oils to the extra virgin olive oil.
To help promote Australian oils, the Australian Olive Association (AOA) has launched a national campaign, headed up by nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan, to educate consumers about the benefits of buying Australian olive oil, promoting Australian extra virgin olive oil as the fresher, healthier and tastier olive oil (see video below).
CEO of the Australian Olive Association, Lisa Rowntree, said “We have been lobbying for two years for imported olive oils to comply with the Australian Standard and now the AOA has taken the only option available by directly educating the public with this campaign endorsed by Dr McMillan.
“We encourage all conscientious consumers, cooks and chefs nationwide to swap to Australian olive oils. If they haven’t already; make the pledge today.”
The Buy Australian Olive Oil campaign commenced on 1 December on television and radio.