Thursday, December 4, 2008

Australian Sensory Panel Regains Recognition / Testing Your Olive Oil to International Trade Standard in Australia and New Zealand.

Good news for the Australian Olive Industry. The Australian Olive Oil Sensory Panel based at the Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute in New South Wales has regained its international recognition by the International Olive Council. The New Zealand panel has retained its recognition.

This means that olive oils can again be fully tested to International Trade Standard at the NSW facility for the next year. It is the only facility in Australia that has IOC recognition for sensory and chemical testing.

However, for New Zealand, the comments below are still relevant, as are observations on the validity of test results published over the past year from Australian and New Zealand testing facilities.

Olive Business 4 December 2008

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

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