Monday, November 24, 2008

Testing Your Olive Oil to International Trade Standard in Australia and New Zealand.

If you want your olive oil certified as extra virgin in Australia and New Zealand, you will have to send it overseas for testing.

As signatories to the Codex Alimentarius, the standards for olive oil in the Codex apply in Australia and New Zealand (Codex standard 33). The standard for trading across international boundaries is described in the Trade Standard published by the International Olive Council (IOC). These standards are available at and respectively.

To test imported and locally produced olive oils and to take action against those that do not comply, the oil must be tested by competent authorities. Competent authorities are those which are firstly approved by the country in which the testing is taking place, and secondly recognised by the International Olive Council (IOC). This recognition, bestowed annually, requires the laboratories meet a standard of analysis and prove competence through analysing test samples distributed by the IOC.

There are two testing regimes for olive oil, one chemical and the other sensory (taste). Currently Australia has one IOC recognised chemical testing laboratory, the Oil Research Laboratory of NSW Department of Agriculture, and no recognised tasting panel. New Zealand has a recognised tasting panel and no recognised laboratories.

Therefore, olive oils cannot be fully tested and classified to international trade standard in either country. To be valid any full classification would have to be carried out overseas.

This calls into question the validity of all classifications bestowed by laboratories in Australia and New Zealand, including the analyses of olive oils taken from supermarket shelves and tested on behalf of the Australian Olive Association. The chemical testing may be valid, the taste testing almost certainly is not.

In following up on the claims made by the AOA of incorrect labelling and adulteration of olive oils the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) will need to be mindful of this and require overseas testing of all samples, including Australian brands which the AOA claims are fully compliant.

Furthermore, issuing of classification certificates by laboratories not recognised by the IOC that may imply the classification is to international standard for olive oil should be as unacceptable as the incorrect labelling of olive oils on supermarket shelves. There may also be legal implications for producers using these certificates to claim authenticity should there be a dispute over olive oil quality.

A list of IOC recognised laboratories is available at:

Olive Business, 25 November 2008

For further information contact Simon Field on 03 9387 9919 or email

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Savantes 2009

Fortnum and Mason, London, UK, 27-29 May
Seville, Spain, 19-21 May

Fortnum and Mason, one of the world’s most prestigious food stores, will be the venue for the London Savantes programme in 2009. Chosen because of it’s commitment to excellence, the commercial setting of Fortnum and Mason will provide tasteful surroundings and delicious food to compliment some of the best olive oils the world has to offer for tasting.

In Spain, the leading olive oil producing country in the world, beautiful Seville will again host the Savantes programme. Surrounded by rolling plains of olive groves, Seville is steeped in cultural and food history, making it the perfect venue to explore the taste of leading olive oils from around the world. 

The Savantes programme attracts those with an interest in the olive industry who realise the importance of keeping up to date with trends in the processing, taste and uses of extra virgin olive oil. Participants include chefs, retailers, wholesalers, traders, journalists, producers, and processors from the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Savantes emphasises the culinary uses of the different flavours, styles and intensities of a wide range of olive oils which have formed the basis for many of the world’s healthiest cuisines.

In contrast with many technical olive oil classification training programmes, the emphasis is on the commercial differentiation, taste and culinary uses of extra virgin olive oils. 

The 2009 programme will be led by internationally recognised culinary and olive oil expert Judy Ridgway. Author of ‘Best Olive Oil Buys Round the World’ and many cook books and travel articles, Judy travels the world keeping up to date with taste and production trends.

Judy will be supported by farmer entrepreneur Simon Field who founded Savantes in 2001. As producer, trader, marketer and author of technical olive handbooks, Simon brings a commercial and market perspective to the programme.

To give a regional perspective in each of the locations in 2009, local experts will assist with some sessions covering culinary uses. 

For further information and booking go to or contact Simon Field on +61 3 9387 9919

13 September 2008