These new standards rely heavily on taste testing, which has given inconsistent results and has been debated as a biased grading tool. They also don’t include purity testing, a critical foundation for quality monitoring. And although the standards took effect on September 26, CDFA doesn’t have an implementation plan in place.
“We believe the health benefits of olive oil make it a great choice and are concerned that people are confused when there’s been great strides made by so many in the food and nutrition community to change habits and perceptions of olive oil,” said Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, a Boston-based nonprofit inspiring good health through cultural food traditions and lifestyles. “We support NAOOA’s efforts to improve knowledge and push for universal quality standards.”
According to the NAOOA, many U.S. olive oil users lack knowledge when it comes to olive oil uses and health benefits, including:
– Only six percent know the color of olive oil is not related to the quality
– A mere 15 percent understand light-tasting olive oil does not have fewer calories than other olive oils
Only one in four regular users knows that unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age.
“Our aim is to help food and nutrition experts do what they do best – translate from the textbook to the table and debunk myths that persist, as well as be sure they are aware of new confusion from the distracting California regulations,” explained Balch.