North American Olive Oil Association Asks States to Adopt Olive Oil Standards

Posted on November 21, 2009

Olive OilDemand for olive oil is growing as more Americans realize the great taste and heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) and its members want to ensure consumers get what they pay for when buying olive oil. To help achieve that, the NAOOA recently started asking states to adopt the international standard for olive oil.

Connecticut became the first state in the nation to adopt the international standard for olive oil. California, Oregon and New York soon passed state standards for olive oil. Legislators in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland have expressed support in creating an olive oil standard in their states as well.

The regulations stipulate that olive oil production and labeling must comply with a set of quality standards mirroring those established by the International Olive Council. They make it unlawful to manufacture, pack, possess or sell any blended oil claiming to be an olive oil without properly identifying the ingredients. Once enacted, these laws empower consumer protection agencies to levy fines and pull misleading products from store shelves.

Extra virgin olive oil is the oil derived from the first pressing of olives, without any refining. The NAOOA says adulterated olive oil, that which is blended with cheaper oils such as nut, soy or low-grade olive oil, and not labeled as such, "robs the consumer of the health benefits and superior flavors of extra virgin olive oil." Mislabeling could also pose a health risk for people with certain food allergies.

Photo: North American Olive Oil Association