Thursday, November 7, 2013

Judging Own Oils

Being a judge in a competition in which one enters one’s own extra virgin olive oils seems to be the norm in Australia. It is a practice which is frowned upon when discussed with the general public where the apparent vested interest is ethically unacceptable. Chief judges and organisers justify the practice by stating that the pool of experienced judges in Australia is small and in the shows it is ensured that judges do not judge their own oils.

Five judges on the Melbourne Fine Food Show panel had a direct or indirect interest in oils entered. One judge entered an oil in every class which would make it difficult to ensure that the judge did not score their own oil. Notably some judges who regularly enter their olive oils in competitions did not enter their oil in the Melbourne Show in which they were judging.

Some industry competitions such as the Australian Olive Association no longer publish the list of judges, possibly to avoid criticism of apparent vested interests and bias. Surely the simplest way to avoid such criticism is to rule that judges cannot enter oils with which they have an association.