How much salt to conserve table olives?

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A recent online article in Mumbai reported on containers of olives being held up at customs at ports around the country due to irregularities concerning the amount of salt in the brine solution being used to preserve the olives. The article cited national and Codex standards.

The Codex Standard for Table Olives was revised in 2013 to harmonise provisions with the corresponding International Olive Council (IOC) Standard for Table Olives. The two standards can be considered as the international standards that should be used as references for international trade in table olives and olive products in general.

For treated olives the minimum sodium chloride (salt) content is 5.0% in both standards and for other types of olives it is even higher (Natural olives 6%; Dehydrated and/or shrivelled olives 8%). The minimum salt content for pasteurised treated and natural olives is however governed by GMP (good manufacturing practices) as the olives are pasteurised to contain microbial growth/contamination and so the salt content in the brine should be less in comparison with other types of table olives.

In such cases, trade partners therefore decide bilaterally the most suitable physico-chemical characteristics of the packing brine.

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