The USDA is getting serious about oil, olive oil that is. It seems that the USDA wants to clarify what it takes to be a real extra virgin olive oil. The governmental agency has set standards which will go into affect this October and the oil companies better adhere to the standards or else. The ‘or else’ might be a big slap on the wrist. When the government can’t get BP to stop the biggest oil disaster in U.S. history, I have some serious doubts that they can protect our olive oil. LOL
In a recent article it states that:
The definitions will differentiate cheaper impostors from the best oil: those cold-pressed, pure, golden-hued products that lead connoisseurs to talk of grass tones, apple or nut flavors, and peppery finishes in language usually reserved for wines.
“It will put an end to marketing terms that are confusing to the consumer, such as light, extra light — language that really doesn’t meant too much,” said Patricia Darragh, executive director of the California Olive Oil Council, a trade association of producers responsible for most U.S.-grown olive oil.
The standards will also conform to international and trade group definitions, reassuring buyers that they can be sure of what’s behind that fancy label before they plunk down $15, $20 or more for a bottle.
In 2003 the California Olive Oil Council adopted their own mandatory quality test for its members. To get their seal of approval, an oil purporting to be “extra virgin” had to meet requirements including an acidity test and a taste test.
Soon after that, the association petitioned the USDA to adopt a similar approach to protect their boutique products from competition with olive oils of lesser quality, or even oils altered with cheaper products like hazelnut or sunflower seed oil.
“There has been a concern for some time about the quality and truthfulness of oil brought into the United States,” said Darragh. “In the absence of a federal standards, some unscrupulous importers have flooded the market.”
Olive oil fetches a higher price than nut or seed oils but is far more costly and labor intensive to produce. Adulteration scandals in the 1990s led the European Union, which produces the majority of the world’s supply, to establish an investigative task force to handle the matter.
Our family has always purchased olive oil from Italy and have been satisfied with the quality. What about you? Will these new standards help you make a wiser decision in your olive oil purchases?