Big news out of Washington: Uncle Sam has adopted landmark rules meant to ensure the bottle of extra virgin olive oil you buy at the store is genuine and not some fake EVOO.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture last week issued new standards that will govern the different grades of olive oil sold in this country, including extra virgin. The new standards, which run nearly 20 pages, were 5-1/2 years in the making. They replace outdated ones adopted back in 1948.
The USDA said the standards will “provide consumers more assurance of the quality of olive oil that they purchase.”
The California Olive Oil Council, the trade group which had sought the overhaul, called it “an historic achievement for consumers, retailers and the entire California olive oil industry.”
We certainly hope so.
That has meant olive oil producers overseas could unload “extra virgin olive oil” in this country that in fact did not meet IOC standards. This was particularly the case with certain “supermarket” oils.
A wonderful article in The New Yorker recounted how U.S. marshals in 2006 seized 61,000 liters (16,000 gallons) of what was purportedly EVOO and 26,000 liters (6,900 gallons) of a lower-grade olive oil from a New Jersey warehouse.
Some of the oil, in fact, “consisted almost entirely of soybean oil,” according to the article.
“My experience over a period of some fifty years suggests that we can always expect adulteration and mislabeling of olive-oil products in the absence of surveillance by official sources,” David Firestone, a U.S. Food and Drug administration chemist who was the agency’s olive-oil specialist from the mid-sixties to 1999, told The New Yorker.
Let’s hope the new standards change that situation.
Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch