Gov. signs off on Wolk's olive oil commission

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SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown Tuesday established a state commission to help coordinate state growers and manufacturers to strengthen the competitiveness of the rapidly growing olive oil industry.

Brown signed a measure by state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, to establish the commission.

“Establishing this commission is a vital first step toward protecting consumers and providing California’s olive oil industry a fair playing field where they can grow and thrive. That’s why this bill received bipartisan support from day one,” said Wolk, chairwoman of the Agriculture Subcommittee on Olive Oil Production and Emerging Products. “I applaud the Governor’s decision to sign this measure into law, and look forward to continuing to work with the state’s olive growers and olive oil producers to help ensure that Californians can be confident about the products they’re serving to their families.”

SB 250 would create the Olive Oil Commission of California within the Department of Food and Agriculture to allow the industry to conduct research and establish product grades and standards through the Secretary of Food and Agriculture.

There are currently 16 active, industry-funded agricultural commissions in California created to enhance their industries competitiveness through promotion, advertising, education, marketing research, scientific research, and the creation and regulation of quality standards.

SB 250 is part of Wolk’s ongoing effort to address challenges facing state’s expanding olive oil industry, including competitors selling fraudulent and low-quality olive oil.

A study conducted by the UC Davis Olive Center found that 65 percent of imported extra-virgin olive oils bought off the shelves of California supermarkets failed to meet international standards for olive oil quality — concluding that many of the imported olive oils tested were falsely labeled as extra virgin grade.

“Similar commissions have been very effective in advancing research and quality standards. SB 250 is an important step for the industry,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the UC Davis Olive Center.

“The COOC is delighted to hear the news of the signing of Senate Bill 250 by Governor Brown,” said Patricia Darragh, Executive Director of the California Olive Oil Council, one of SB 250’s supporters. “As the industry grows, our long standing commitment to quality and standards becomes a critical issue for consumers and retailers in the marketplace. Kudos to State Senator Lois Wolk for her vision and support of the California olive industry.”

“Governor Brown has done a tremendous service for all those who enjoy the health benefits and culinary enhancement of world class extra virgin olive oil produced in California by signing SB 250 into law today. Thanks to the Governor’s actions and the tireless work of Senator Wolk to establish the Olive Oil Commission of California, consumers of California olive oil everywhere can continue to trust the exceptional quality of extra virgin olive oil produced there,” said Kimberly Houlding, Executive Director of The American Olive Oil Producers Association.

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