Extra Virgin olive oil not always that extra!

NEW research by a Spanish consumer association has reignited the debate over whether olive oil is being labelled as “Extra Virgin” incorrectly.

According to the latest report by the Consumers and Users Organisation (OCU), many of the top-selling olive oil brands in Spanish supermarkets and superstores are not Extra Virgin, despite their labels’ description.

The group’s researchers checked out 41 products, testing their flavour as well as other factors, and found that 20 did not deserve to be labelled Extra Virgin, but, instead, belonged to the lesser category of Virgin.

The olive oil industry has dismissed the results, arguing there were irregularities in the analysis and that its products comply with all regulations that authorise the use of the tag.

Olive oils are classified according to a European Union regulation, which divides products into Extra Virgin, Virgin, Olive and Olive-Pomace.

A product must meet certain, physical and chemical parameters to be classified as Extra Virgin, and it must also comply with sensory standards, which are measured through an extremely strict taste test.

In the OCU study, 21 of the 40 analysed products failed this sensory test, which is compulsory in Europe. But the industry argues that the taste test is too subjective, and cannot be trusted.

“No physico-chemical problems have been detected, and the only problem was in the taste test, which is an unreliable method,” said Primitivo Fernández, director of the National Association of Edible Oils Bottlers and Refiners (Anierac).

Fernández added that the industry had been trying for a long time to design an “electronic nose” to reduce the subjective element of the test and provide more reliable results.

“Oil is the only food product in the world that is defined using a tasting, and the differences in criteria cause a problem because of the lack of legal security,” he said.

Products receiving the best score in the sensory test were Oleoestepa’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, that comes in a one-litre plastic bottle (which received top marks in four of the five studies carried out by OCU since 2000), Carrefour’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in a one-litre plastic bottle, and Hacendado Gran Selección Cooperativam in a 750-millilitre glass bottle.

Labels owned by supermarket chains, such as the French group Auchan, also made the list, while others, like Hojiblanca’s El Nuestro one-litre plastic bottle, were wrongly labelled as Extra Virgin, according to the OCU report.


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Posted by on Nov 2 2018. Filed under Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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