Daily Archives: May 30, 2013

  • Council Says New Chemical Limits Will Improve Olive Oil Quality

    Tougher chemical parameters for virgin olive oils are among a range of measures approved this week by the main decision-making body of the International Olive Council (IOC).

    Passed by the IOC’s Council of Members, most of the changes are designed to improve quality control.

    An increased tolerance for campesterol — the limit will rise from 4 to 4.5 percent — will help prevent the exclusion of genuine virgin oils with naturally higher levels of the sterol.

    IOC Members finally conclude 100th session

    According to an IOC press release, the 100th session of the Council concluded on Monday, having passed a range of recommendations from various advisory committees that had been pending since the Council’s last meeting, in November, lost quorum when delegates from Israel and Turkey walked out.

    The new standards, which would apply from the 2013/14 season (starting in October) will continue “the ongoing improvement of the quality control of virgin olive oils,” it said.

    Parameters changing

    Among the measures are most of the changes to chemical parameters and tests that European Union Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Cioloș had urged the IOC to expedite as part of his action plan for the E.U. olive oil sector.

    They include:

    – Stigmastadienes limit: to be reduced from 0.10 to 0.05mg/kg for virgin and extra virgin olive oils. (The Cioloș plan said this would improve detection of other vegetable oils in olive oils.)

    – Alkyl esters: the maximum level will fall from the current 75 mg/kg for the sum of ethyl plus methyl esters to 40mg/kg for only ethyl esters for 2013/14, then to 35mg/kg for 2014/15, and 30mg/kg from the start of 2015/16. (The Cioloș plan said a lower limit would further restrict use of deodorised oils.)

    – The global method for detecting extraneous oils in olive oils will be adopted.

    – Wax content: will introduce a new limit of 150 mg/kg for the sum of C42, C44 and C46. (Wax content was said to be a key indicator of quality and purity.)

    – Myristic acid: the limit will be lowered from 0.05 percent to 0.03 percent. (The Cioloș plan said this would improve detection of palm oil.)

    The IOC said other changes include:

    – Provisional adoption of the method for the determination of alkyl esters and waxes with 3g of silica

    – Adoption of the method for the determination of the composition and content of sterols and triterpene dialcohols

    – Adoption of a revised sensory evaluation method. (No detail was given.)

    Campesterol

    Australia, with support from Argentina, the United States and New Zealand had unsuccessfully pushed for a 4.8 percent limit for campesterol in the context of this year’s meeting of the Codex Committee on Fats and Oils.

    The IOC Council didn’t go that far but it did agree to a rise to 4.5 percent, under the condition that three decision trees are used to ensure the authenticity of those virgin or extra virgin olive oils with levels of 4-4.5 percent, for example requiring they have a stigmasterol level of no more than 1.4 percent.

    Uruguay is joining the IOC and Palestine wants to

    On Tuesday, the Council also noted a membership application from Palestine and asked the IOC’s executive secretariat to provide a legal opinion on the matter.

    The IOC said that on Wednesday the Council received the legal advice – without saying what it was – and that “many members then expressed their position in favor of this membership.” A decision on the application would be taken at the latest at the Council’s 101st session, in November, it said.

    Meanwhile, the members also noted the imminent membership of Uruguay.

    Other business included harmonization of custom codes

    The IOC said that among the highlights from an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Members on Tuesday and Wednesday were:

    – A group will be set up to study the possibility of harmonizing customs tariff codes between IOC members countries in order to obtain more detailed data on international trade under the current general virgin olive oil heading (150 910).

    – Another group will study a method for comparing the cost of growing olives for olive oil in different countries.

    – The results of promotion campaign in the U.S. and Canada in 2012 and planned activities for one in Brazil this year and next year were reviewed.

    – A proposal from Turkey to add “light green fruitiness” to the categories for the Mario Solinas extra virgin olive oil awards was approved.

    – There was debate over the agreement on “autocontrol” of the quality of imported oils.

    – The IOC’s financial rules were modified so that from next year some initiatives in non-member countries may be eligible for IOC funding.

    IOC back to business as usual

    Since its budget for this year had not yet been approved when the Council’s sitting last November was aborted, the IOC has until now had to operate with a clamp on its financial activities.

    “The adoption of the IOC budgets for 2013 will allow a return to the normal rhythm of activity,” it said.

    On Thursday the first meeting of the working group on the IOC’s future will be held in the lead-up to the expiry of the IOC’s current governing agreement at the end of next year.

    Among issues on the table for the next agreement is allowing countries where olive oil is consumed but not produced to join the IOC.

    By Julie Butler
    Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona
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    Tougher chemical parameters for virgin olive oils are among a range of measures approved this week by the main decision-making body of the International Olive Council (IOC). Passed by the IOC’s Council of Members, most of the changes are designed to improve quality control. An... 
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  • Survey Reveals Surprising Views Toward Olive Oil

    Despite conventional wisdom that olive oil should not be used for cooking, consumers do it anyway, according to a UC Davis Olive Center report.

    The report was based on a survey designed to discover consumer attitudes and perceptions towards olive oil. Among six areas surveyed, Executive Director Dan Flynn was most surprised by consumer responses about cooking with olive oil.

    Research shows that olive oil’s smoke point, the temperature at which it gives off smoke and degrades in quality, is high enough to support most cooking, but the “media, cookbooks and celebrity chefs tell people not to cook with olive oil,” said Flynn. Consumers “apparently did it anyway and found the sky didn’t fall.”

    More than 2,200 consumers responded to the Olive Center’s online survey. After analyzing the results, researchers concluded that “consumers believe that they know more about olive oil than they actually do.”

    As an example of the disconnect between perceived and actual knowledge, no more than 25 percent of survey respondents correctly answered questions testing their understanding of “extra virgin,” “pure,” and “light” grades, even though the majority indicated that they knew the differences between the grades.

    Nearly half of the participants thought that the label “pure” designated the highest quality oil, and many consumers believed that olive oil labeled “light” pertained to its calorie count, when it actually means that the oil was refined and is more neutral in flavor than higher grades.

    The survey showed that flavor was the top factor affecting consumer purchases of olive oil, but descriptive words used by the industry to describe the positive taste attributes of olive oil, do not always have a corresponding impact on consumers. Consumers agreed that that the word “fresh” describes good-tasting oil, but the words “fruity,” “peppery,” and “grassy,” did not resonate well as indicators of tastiness.

    The report also revealed that consumers choose olive oil over other fats because they perceive it as healthier and tasting better, even though a large percentage of responders did not think that olive oil is good for consuming as it is. Many make their olive oil selection based on “best before date,” although a UC Davis Olive Center study showed that the date bears little correlation to quality.

    Flynn believes that the report provide insight that producers or industry associations could use to improve marketing and to help consumers better understand olive oil.

    Although the survey focused on U.S. customers, it “would be interesting to see how the results would compare to other countries,” said Flynn.

    Flynn is particularly interested in doing more research on conventional wisdom. In one example, a standard piece of advice to prevent oxidation is, “don’t put olive oil in a clear bottle.” Flynn says the advice is good, but research could determine if clear bottles could safely be used if they were mostly covered by a label. He would like to do a research project simulating supermarket conditions with shelves, overhead lights and bottles placed on different shelf levels to “see what would happen.”

    By Nancy Flagg
    Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Sacramento

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    Despite conventional wisdom that olive oil should not be used for cooking, consumers do it anyway, according to a UC Davis Olive Center report. The report was based on a survey designed to discover consumer attitudes and perceptions towards olive oil. Among six areas surveyed,... 
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  • EU bashing and olive oil

    A tale of Euroscepticism, political opportunism and a European Commission ‘own goal’.

    In the aftermath of the last European Union summit, one of the many provisions proposed by the European Commission within the framework of its action plan for the olive-oil sector unexpectedly gained global attention.

    The provision, which had already won member states’ backing, would have required that restaurants serve olive oil in sealed, clearly labelled and non-reusable containers, instead of relying on refillable containers. The UK’s prime minister, echoed by his Dutch counterpart, publicly attacked the Commission’s adopted proposal by dismissing it as “exactly the sort of area that the European Union needs to get right out of”. While Dacian Ciolos?, the European commissioner for agriculture, initially defended the proposal as a way to promote quality olive oil and to protect consumers from fraud, he rapidly withdrew the measure, declaring that the ban was “not formulated in such a way as to assemble widespread support”.

    The tale of the proposal captures many of the misperceptions surrounding the EU’s work, but also reveals how a rule that has the member states’ blessing can be overturned by a minority.

    First, it illustrates the lack of understanding of the scope of the regulatory authority granted to the EU. While the Commission proposes around 60-70 legislative acts, it adopts – together with the member states – around 2,000 measures implementing previously agreed legislation every year. The olive-oil proposal fell into the latter category.

    Second, it confirms politicians’ tendency to fuel misinterpretations of the EU to suit their immediate political calculus. In particular, it shows how easy it is to turn the public against the EU by depicting a rule supposedly aimed at consumer protection as the umpteenth attempt to over-regulate EU citizens’ lives. As such, it illustrates once more the cynicism of leaders who blame the Union for systematically over-reaching the exercises of the very same regulatory powers that they have entrusted to the EU.

    Hence, the trivial, yet frequent, claim that the EU, at times of economic difficulties, had better things to do than regulating bottles of olive oil carries limited credibility. Denying multi-tasking ability to a political system is like suggesting that when one of us breaks a leg she should not breathe anymore.

    More remarkably, this story teaches us that even once a rule has gained the majority support of member states (even though not a qualified majority vote) and has been adopted, it is still possible to get it withdrawn if political leaders of the countries that were left in minority are capable of spinning that story as the latest EU attempt at ‘regulating everything’.

    The most pernicious effects of this approach are made possible by widespread ignorance and a profound lack of understanding of the EU’s basic functioning. Attacked by the disease of Euroscepticism generated by a few political leaders, public opinion behaves like a human body whose immunity system is deficient. By not having the right antibodies, public opinion does not react to the disease, allows it to gain ground, and even accelerates its spread.

    It is the task of the Commission, as the holder of the monopoly of legislative initiative, to promote the development of the right antibodies against this manipulation of public opinion.

    To do so, the Commission should systematically engage in EU-wide stakeholder consultations while assessing the impact of its proposed rules.

    Unfortunately, in this case there was no impact assessment of the contested provision. As Ciolos? conceded, the Commission therefore could not effectively illustrate the merits nor prove the possible effects of the rule. What is more, he could not claim to have consulted with all relevant stakeholders.

    This explains why the Commission, which proposed the rule and mobilised a majority of member states in support of this measure, eventually did not stand by its own proposal.

    Only a highly formalised, evidence-based and participatory decision-making process could provide the right antibody against politically driven Euroscepticism. At a time of growing disaffection with the EU, this should be the lesson learned for the Commission from the olive-oil tale.

    Alberto Alemanno is a Jean Monnet professor of EU law and risk regulation and director of the HEC-NYU EU Regulatory Policy Clinical Programme.
    Article source: europeanvoice

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    A tale of Euroscepticism, political opportunism and a European Commission ‘own goal’.In the aftermath of the last European Union summit, one of the many provisions proposed by the European Commission within the framework of its action plan for the olive-oil sector unexpectedly... 
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  • Under the Olive Tree makes finding the perfect olive oil easier

     

    VIENNA, Va, May 29, 2013 — The quest for olive oil perfection continues and a Virginia purveyor Under the Olive Tree in Tyson’s Corner Mall aids in that quest.

    Since olive oil’s popularity burst upon the scene some time ago and aficionados as well as experts shared with the public the technicalities in using the best types — pure, virgin, or extra virgin — selling it only in dark glass bottles to protect taste and aroma, clear glass totally prohibited, we have been schooled in what to look for when purchasing the best product.

    Keeping it in a cool, dark place, not keeping it on the shelf longer than suggested, all of these aspects of “olio d’ oliva” have been brought to our attention via television and newspapers alike. And it doesn’t take five minutes to ascertain what a bad oil tastes like.

    Now a new procedure has been announced, and the Marcel Bernaud family at the Tyson’s store is proud to have been selected to participate.

    Standards for olive oil have been modified through the last few decades, one of the last being in 2010 when the International Olive Oil Council, an intergovernmental organization based in Madrid, Spain, further defined the standards.

    The United States does not belong to this 23-member group, instead relying on the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to assure quality and authenticity, adopted in 1948 prior to the IOC coming into existence, and governmental certification is available from the USDA on a fee-for-service-basis.
    It appears to judge basically only on the level of free fatty acid content and little more. Purists and those who really appreciate the oil are interested in a more stringent approach.

    Veronica Foods, a national supplier that was founded in 1924, has launched a national certification program to ensure certain extra virgin olive oils to be of “premium” quality, compared to the heretofore mentioned existing standards set forth by the IOOC.

    The Tyson’s store was chosen to pilot the certification program on the East Coast, hoping that certification will spread nationwide and even beyond our borders. This certification would assure normal consumers and purchasers on what they should be looking for when they purchase extra virgin olive oil, the most popular of the types used in food. This supplier hopes to end up with a higher quality standard for the oil than presently exists.

    The new category of Ultra Premium was created by Veronica Foods to separate high quality extra virgin oils from what dominates the so-called “gourmet” oils and “premium” oil markets as well as the broader category sold in mass markets everywhere under thousands of brands and private labels.

    The average purchasing consumer would have to read extremely fine print on labels to definitively ascertain whether the “extra virgin oil” he purchases came from Italy, Spain, Greece, California or any other oil-producing entity. And one name does not mean the same in varying producing countries!

    To be able to use this Ultra Premium designation with its distinctive UP label, the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to its more knowledgeable purchasers) must meet or exceed a comprehensive set of production, storage, transportation, testing, chemistry, and organoleptic requirements. If it sounds impressive, it really is, but it will affect the taste and texture of the final product in a positive and satisfying manner.

    The certification program is handled through the Modern Olives Laboratory in Australia, which conducts chemical testing on the oil to measure quality. The results or certifications of the oils that exceed the normal standard set by the IOOC then go to the supplier, providing the retail store direct access to these certification figures. The supplier normally does not buy oils which do not meet the UP standards.

    This, in the final analysis, allows the retailer to place a special tag on the bottles as well as proper documentation on the fustis, which assures their quality in the same way that “Organic” assures quality in foods with that label, almost like a culinary Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

    The Bernaud family: Marcel, Fabiana and Marie Clare, take pride in the fact that they will be able to mark their oils with the highest type label it can have.

    For newcomers, these oils come in a wide variety of flavors including blood orange, basil, Tuscany, chocolate, and some 30 others. All culinary folks out there will find there is something for everyone at the little niche store on the lower floor of Tyson’s, and tasting is definitely allowed.

    Article source: washingtontimes

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      VIENNA, Va, May 29, 2013 — The quest for olive oil perfection continues and a Virginia purveyor Under the Olive Tree in Tyson’s Corner Mall aids in that quest. Since olive oil’s popularity burst upon the scene some time ago and aficionados as well as experts shared... 
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  • Nein to olive oil and United EU

    Germany and its northern allies could not tolerate that olive oil, the product of southern Europe, would finally find its proper place that is in sealed branded small containers on the restaurant, hotel and café table. Very much resembling a coup, the legal process that had been going over the last months through all intermediate stages and had overcome all opposition including that of WTO, was overthrown. So, at the very moment that the amendment of Reg. 29/2012 should be making its way to the Official Journal in Brussels, the Great Powers intervened.

    The Regulation therefore changes and small containers will not be mandatory, but will lie to the discretion of the establishment. In other words the old regime still holds well and the proverbial “vinaigrette” bottles, which leave olive oil vulnerable to enemies such as heat, light, humidity and fraud and which most of the time, contain old product remain unchallenged. It is the first time as far as I can remember (over the past 33 years) in the history of the EU (but also the EC) that the political power of certain countries imposes, in such an inelegant fashion, their interests, slashing at one of the three pillars, that of the Commission, which is a much more democratic institution than most believe (although that’s another big discussion).

    The blietzkrieg of the past week
    It is a sad fact that when the new regulation passed through the last hurdles of WTO and the European Management Committee, then, a coordinated communicative war began, with identical articles appearing and being reproduced in many countries from Germany and Denmark to Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, those articles were also reproduced in most Mediterranean olive producing countries. Unexpectedly the whole of Europe “discovered” the English Representative to the European Parliament, Ms Marina Yannakoudakis, who after criticizing the Regulation of the European Commission pointed out that the problem of Southern Europe, is not its olive oil but the euro. Within this framework, and under these pressures the UK, which had originally voted white thus making it easier for the Regulation to pass, changed its standing and aligned with Germany.

    Consumer protection
    All this is taking place at the aftermath of the horse meat scandal. A logical assumption would be, that these “sensitive” to the protection of consumer health countries, should have realized that this type of protection simply cannot be left upon the good will of those who either through ignorance or self-interest speculate on it. Neither can it be accomplished for free, without any cost, or bureaucracy.

    The Greek position
    The Greek position should be only one. The provisional application of the regulation should become mandatory in the greek Joint Ministerial Decision, just as it is in Portugal during the past few years.
    We should start preparing the Joint Ministerial Decision straightaway so that it can come to force as of 1/1/2014.
    For those who are uncertain, whether the mandatory use of sealed containers, is to the advantage and in the interest or not of Greek olive oil, we would only like to point out very briefly the following:
    1. The freedom of the consumer/costumer or restaurateur is not affected. The Regulation does not oblige either to offer or use olive oil. However, in case that it is being provided, then it should be in a hermetically sealed container and not in an open one that could be refilled.
    2. The proverbial vinegraitte bottles have become, most of the time, a negative advertisement for olive oil. In particular the unfamiliar tourist can get a very wrong impression when a few drops of bad olive oil ruin a well grilled fish or a freshly cut salad.
    3. A major proportion of Greek olive oil that is nowadays directed towards Italy in bulk at low prices, could find its way into HORECA. This would be directly in favor of olive producers, as they would be offered a higher price for their olive oil. It would also be in favor, of the 310 medium sized packaging companies, that are scattered all over Greece. Any conspiracy theory that the regulation is in favor of multinational companies is proof only to ignorance of the sector. To the contrary, these smaller, regional enterprises would come to blossom.
    4. A very important part of the Greek 100-150 thousand tons of bulk olive oil, would be absorbed in the internal market, would be branded and show added value, offering at the same time, a culinary delight to consumers/costumers at a slight added cost.

    Article source olivenews.gr

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    Germany and its northern allies could not tolerate that olive oil, the product of southern Europe, would finally find its proper place that is in sealed branded small containers on the restaurant, hotel and café table. Very much resembling a coup, the legal process that had... 
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  • Olive Council to Probe Discrepancy in Import Data for India

    The International Olive Council is investigating why its data on olive oil trade in the rapidly-growing market of India show most imports are of refined olive oil while those of the Indian olive Association show that olive pomace oil predominates.

    As reported in Olive Oil Times earlier this month, Indian olive oil imports last season rose 74 percent on 2010/11, though to a total of just 9,400 tons.

    According to data in the IOC’s April newsletter, nearly three quarters of India’s imports were classified as olive oil grade, 18 percent virgin and 9 percent pomace.

    But according to the Indian Olive Association, a much higher proportion of the imports were olive pomace oil.

    Based on figures from Italy’s National Federation of Oil Traders (Federolio) covering imports from Italy and Spain — which account for the vast majority of India’s olive oil and olive pomace oil imports – the Indian association said that in the 2011-12 crop year, virgin oils accounted for 18 percent of the imports, olive oil for 31 percent and olive pomace oil for 51 percent, compared to 21, 41 and 37 percent respectively in 2010-11.

    “Federolio’s data should be correct as it is based on customs data of Spain and Italy,” Indian Olive Association secretary Shabnam Pareek told Olive Oil Times.

    Asked for comment, an IOC spokesperson said that its data came from official sources in importer countries.

    “In the specific case of India, it is the Ministry of Commerce of India that facilitates the data to Global Trade Information Services, which is the source that provides the imports figures for the IOC. In the case of export data, it is the exporting countries themselves which provide the data directly to the IOC.”

    “The IOC takes note of the discrepancies and will submit the issue to its members countries to try to pinpoint the origin of the differences,” the IOC said.

    Sources:

    IOC’s April market newsletter
    Growing Thirst for Olive Oil in Japan and India
    By Julie Butler
    Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona

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    The International Olive Council is investigating why its data on olive oil trade in the rapidly-growing market of India show most imports are of refined olive oil while those of the Indian olive Association show that olive pomace oil predominates. As reported in Olive Oil Times... 
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