North American Olive Oil Association

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Here you'll find industry news and links pertaining to olive oil, the North American Olive Oil Association and its industry.
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  • 18 Sep 2013 1:03 PM | Anonymous

    Neptune, N.J. (September 15, 2013) – The North American Olive Oil Association  commends the U.S. International Trade Commission for the completion of its report, Olive Oil: Conditions of Competition Between U.S. and Major Foreign Supplier Industries.

    The commission’s report confirms that U.S. consumption of olive oil continues to increase as more and more consumers experience the taste attributes that set olive oil apart from other cooking oils and recognize the health benefits of olive oil. While imports continue to supply the overwhelming majority of the growing U.S. demand for olive oil, a vibrant U.S. industry of both artisanal olive farms and large super-high-density farms is now supplying all segments of the market.

    “The NAOOA is pleased the commission recognized its ongoing efforts to buttress U.S. enforcement of international olive oil grade definitions,” said Eryn Balch, NAOOA executive vice president.  “As noted by the commission, the NAOOA has long pursued the adoption by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of a mandatory standard of identity for olive oil.   While voluntary standards and some state-level standards are already in place, the commission said  a mandatory national standard of identity enforced by  FDA would permit more aggressive U.S. action, including injunctions and seizures, against unscrupulous participants in the olive oil market.”

    In addition to describing the extensive quality control and testing regimes most large olive oil producers and packers have instituted, the report also profiles the NAOOA’s efforts through the International Olive Council’s quality monitoring program, which has tested more than 900 samples randomly selected from U.S. retail shelves in the past five years alone.

    The commission’s report illustrates how each country’s market is unique due to the interplay between the country’s production, consumption, distribution networks and consumer knowledge. It also highlights the many common challenges of producers and marketers targeting different consumer segments not just domestically, but worldwide.

    The report’s calls to enforce industry standards and educate consumers are consistent with the long-standing mission of the NAOOA.

    ###

  • 17 Sep 2012 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    In 2012, many reports and claims have been made about extra virgin olive oil based on the assumption that the highly-publicized UC Davis olive oil studies are accurate. The NAOOA has disputed the studies as being biased from the beginning and even the lawyers that filed a lawsuit based on the studies were not able to replicate the results. The legal firm's findings can be read about here.

     

     

  • 13 Feb 2012 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Frequently Asked Questions on Recent Olive Oil News
    February 2012

     

    Q: I’ve suddenly been hearing a lot about olive oil. Is most olive oil in the U.S. really fake?

    Tom Mueller’s recent book release has helped grow the national conversation about olive oil. While premium products such as olive oil often face problems of deception, the problems in the U.S. olive oil industry are nowhere near the level indicated in recent news coverage. In fact, 20 years of test results through NAOOA’s independent quality control program have consistently shown that brands identified with adulterated product represent less than 2 percent market share in U.S. retail.

     

    Q: U.C. Davis conducted studies that concluded that most supermarket extra virgin olive oils aren’t the real thing. Why shouldn’t I believe them?


    As stated on its website, the U.C. Davis Olive Center has a clear mission, “Enhancing the quality and economic viability of California table olives and olive oil.” Past responses to the publication of these studies can be found here:


    IOC Blasts California Study July 28, 2010


    U.C. Davis Study of Imported Olive Oils Flawed… April 14, 2011


    U.C. Davis was only able to arrive at its much-publicized failure statistics through crafty combination of results from chemical tests rejected by the International Olive Council (IOC) and sensory analyses done by panels that stand to benefit from promoting domestic production. The tests used are referred to as PPP and DAGs; they’ve been considered and rejected by the IOC because of failure to produce consistent, reliable results.  Promoters of the studies go so far as to conveniently minimize the results showing that even the recommended California and Australian oils failed the PPP tests. Additionally, of the more than 50 IOC-approved sensory panels around the globe, the studies chose to use only the two panels comprised of members that are actively working to promote sales of domestically-produced olive oils in their respective countries. If the studies were truly independent, why not use more-longstanding, more-experienced and more-widely versed panels from countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain, Tunisia, France or others? 

    Q: What procedures exist to monitor olive oil sold in the U.S.?


    The NAOOA follows the standards set forth by the International Olive Council (IOC), the global governing body of the olive oil industry since 1959.  As part of the NAOOA’s self-initiated quality control program, olive oils, including all members’ oils, are purchased from retail outlets throughout the United States and randomly tested to check for compliance with the IOC standards.  Throughout our testing program, we’ve identified instances of both domestic and foreign companies selling product adulterated with seed oils or with mislabeling that intends to pass off lower grade olive oils, such as olive pomace oil, as extra virgin. NAOOA shares its findings with government agencies to gain their support in stopping these practices and removing products packed by these companies from the market. Our results from thousands of samples collected over the years show adulteration in brands that in total represent less than 2 percent market share in U.S. retail.


    NAOOA member companies each have their own internal quality controls, so the NAOOA’s testing of their products is simply another level of checking from the field. At the moment, NAOOA is the ONLY group in the United States that continues to perform ongoing, independent testing of any kind at all. Members that choose to use the NAOOA Seal subject their products not only to even-more-frequent testing, but also to panel testing. You can find the current list of retail brands using the NAOOA Seal here.

     

    Q: I heard that only Extra Virgin olive oil is healthy and that it should taste very bitter. Is this true?


    Bitterness of taste and a “burning” sensation in the throat do indicate a high concentration of beneficial polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil, but polyphenols are present in all extra virgin olive oils, including those that appeal to a mild palate. Since olive oil is a natural agricultural product, flavors often change as the new harvests occur each year. Your best bet is to explore and find a flavor that suits you and know the range of flavors can vary from quite mild to powerfully bitter. You may even find that you choose different olive oils for different cooking purposes.

     

    If you don’t enjoy the intense flavor of highly bitter oils, you can still reap the health benefits of olive oil by choosing a milder extra virgin olive oil.  Additionally, don’t discredit regular Olive Oil, sometimes referred to as Pure. Although this type has been refined to remove defects, all grades of olive oil have more monounsaturated fatty acids (the “good” fat) than other common cooking oils and are cholesterol-free, sodium-free, gluten-free and naturally trans-fat free.  Olive oil can be more cost effective for high-heat cooking than extra virgin olive oil and when used in baking, olive oil helps produce delicious, moist baked goods that stay that way longer. 

    Q: What can a regular shopper that wants to use good olive oil do?


    Knowledge is power and a critical point is that olive oil, unlike wine, doesn’t get better with age. However, if properly handled and stored, a good olive oil can last up to two years from the time it’s bottled. If the product is mishandled, i.e. exposure to excessive heat, light or air, even what started out as good oil will deteriorate – typically leading to the rancidity taste defect. So first and foremost, take care of your olive oil by limiting exposure to heat, light and air. Store it (all types!) in a cool, dark place and don’t leave the package out without the cap on. 


    Here are some additional tips to use while shopping at the shelf:

    • Look for a best-by date that is as far out as possible.
      • With proper storage a good olive oil will keep for up to two years.
    • Look for quality seals, which are becoming more widely used in the U.S. 
      • NAOOA Seal
      • California Olive Oil Council (COOC) Seal
    • Check the bottle for signs of improper handling or storage
      • Broken/loose seal on cap
      • Orange-y color to the oil – has been overexposed to fluorescent lighting
    • Look for the distributing company’s name and contact information to make sure they are legitimate.
      • One example presented at a recent Senate hearing of a label of which to be leery was one that listed company initials only; it turned out the company does not exist.
    • Look for a country-of-origin statement near the nutrition facts and ingredients.
      • U.S. regulations require this information. Don’t be alarmed if more than one country is listed. Often oils from more than one country are blended in order to achieve a specific flavor profile.
  • 16 Jun 2011 5:50 AM | Anonymous

    (Reuters Health) - Older people who use olive oil in their cooking and on their salads may have a lower risk of suffering a stroke, researchers reported Wednesday.

    In a study that followed older French adults for five years, researchers found that those who regularly used olive oil were 41 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who never used the oil.


    The findings, reported in the journal Neurology, hint that the well-known connection between olive oil and heart disease might extend to stroke as well. Olive oil is a key ingredient in the so-called Mediterranean diet. And some clinical trials have suggested that the diet helps control risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and elevated levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol.


    High olive oil intake is also linked to a lower risk of heart attack, and a longer lifespan among heart attack survivors. These latest findings support the general advice that people replace dubious dietary fats -- namely, saturated fats and "trans" fats -- with olive oil and other unsaturated fats, according to an expert not involved in the study. But he also stressed that the study does not prove that olive oil, per se, helps prevent strokes.

    "We need to remember that this is an observational study," said Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York who wrote an editorial published with the study.


    The study found a correlation between people's olive oil use and their stroke risk, he told Reuters Health -- but that doesn't necessarily translate into cause-and-effect.

    "People who use a lot of olive oil may be very different from people who don't," Scarmeas said.


    Olive oil users may, for example, have higher incomes, eat better overall or exercise more often than people who never use the oil. The researchers on the new study, led by Cécilia Samieri of the French national research institute INSERM, tried to account for those differences. And after they did, olive oil was still linked to a lower stroke risk.

    But it's impossible to fully account for all those variables, Scarmeas noted. What's needed, he said, are clinical trials where people are randomly assigned to use olive oil or not, then followed over time to see who suffers a stroke. Such clinical trials are considered the "gold standard" of medical evidence.


    The current study included 7,625 French adults age 65 and older who reported on their diets and other lifestyle factors. People who said they used olive oil for both cooking and as a dressing were considered "intensive users."


    Over the next five to six years, those intensive users suffered strokes at a rate of 0.3 percent per year. That compared with just over 0.5 percent among non-users, and 0.4 percent among moderate users.


    When the researchers factored in other diet habits, exercise levels and major risk factors for stroke -- like high blood pressure and diabetes -- heavy olive oil use was tied to 41 percent reduction in the odds of stroke.


    Samieri's team also took blood samples from another 1,245 older adults, measuring their levels of oleic acid -- a monounsaturated fat that accounts for most of the fatty acids in olive oil. The one-third of participants with the highest oleic acid levels were 73 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than the one-third with the lowest levels.


    The findings, according to Scarmeas, argue for more research into olive oil's potential benefits against not only heart disease, but stroke and other neurological diseases as well.

    For now, he suggested that people choose olive oil and other unsaturated fats over saturated fats (found largely in meat and dairy) and trans fats (found in some processed foods, like crackers, cookies and chips).


    "It's better to rely on this type of fat for your overall health," Scarmeas said.

    That said, no single food is consumed in isolation, he points out in his editorial. Olive oil is one part of the Mediterranean diet that has been tied to heart benefits. The diet also boasts plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish and moderate amounts of red wine.


    SOURCE: bit.ly/SUxCM Neurology, online June 15, 2011.

    NEW YORK | Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:07am EDT

  • 14 Apr 2011 11:11 AM | Anonymous

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     

    UC Davis Study of Imported Olive Oils Flawed By Across-the-Board Bias

     

    Consumers can continue to trust the quality, purity and

     value of heart-healthy imported olive oils

     

     

    NEPTUNE, NJ (APRIL 14, 2011) -- Consumers can continue to trust the quality of the imported olive oils they buy in supermarkets throughout the United States, contrary to what the authors of a report funded by a small contingent of domestic olive oil producers would like them to believe.

     

    For the second time within the past year, the University of California at Davis Olive Center released a report questioning the integrity of marketers of imported olive oil. The report relies on rejected chemical tests and subjective taste analyses organized and conducted by organizations aligned with Australian and California agricultural interests to try to discredit importers of products with proven track records of consistent quality.

     

    “The report, funded by California olive oil producers and the California Olive Oil Council, was prepared by staff at the UC Davis Olive Center whose primary mission, per its website, is to enhance the economic viability of California olive oil,” said Bob Bauer, president of the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA). UC Davis Olive Center also markets its own olive oil, thus it directly competes with the olive oil brands its “study” attempts to discredit.

     

    “All five of the imported brands on which the report focused are marketed by members in good standing of the NAOOA,” Bauer said. A condition of membership in the NAOOA is that members’ products meet the olive oil standards developed by the International Olive Council (IOC), an organization formed by United Nations charter to oversee the world’s olive oil sector. IOC member countries produce 97 percent of the world’s olive oil supply. The NAOOA is a signatory to the IOC’s quality control monitoring agreement for the U.S. and Canada. It conducts random sampling of olive oil purchased from retail and foodservice establishments throughout the U.S. and Canada for testing by IOC-accredited laboratories. The brands mentioned in the UC Davis report have been tested regularly for 20 years and have consistently met the IOC standards.


    The IOC issued a statement that faulted both UC Davis studies for containing “. . .[an] evident undercurrent of aggressive, inexplicable criticism of imported olive oil quality.”

     

    The economic interests of the organizations that funded the study and support the Center bring into question the integrity of the study’s findings. “That bias is reflected by the use of laboratory tests rejected by the IOC as unreliable and by the use of subjective sensory findings made by recently accredited tasting panels comprised of domestic industry representatives, many of whom have displayed extreme animosity toward imported products while trying to promote fledgling domestic agricultural industries. It comes as no surprise that UC Davis, despite its reputation for scientific integrity, has chosen not to use labs and panels with much greater expertise in the oils being tested.” Furthermore there was no independent collection of samples and even with foil wrapping, an olive oil consumer or tester would be able to recognize the sample being tested; thus, the study was not “blind.”

     

    This recent study is the latest attempt by the UC Davis Olive Center to discredit the olive oil companies that compete with its supporters. “When a similar report issued last year was criticized by the IOC and others, UC Davis and the domestic industry decided to try again. American consumers can certainly trust the quality, purity and value of heart-healthy imported olive oils and they will quickly understand this ‘study’, like the prior ‘study’, is nothing more than a crass marketing ploy by California olive oil producers,” Bauer said.

     

    “It’s revealing to note that the domestic olive oil industry has pushed for standards less stringent than the IOC standards that NAOOA members have adopted, because they said their olive oils can’t meet those standards. Yet they use and emphasize subjective and rejected tests to try to make people believe imported oils don’t meet those more-stringent standards,” said Bauer. “Consumers knew better than to accept the ‘findings’ in UC Davis’ last study and we expect the same will hold true again.”

     

    Established in 1989, the North American Olive Oil Association is a trade association of marketers, packagers and importers of olive oil in the United States, Canada and their respective suppliers abroad. The association strives to foster a better understanding of olive oil and its taste, versatility and health benefits. For more recipes and information about olive oil and the NAOOA, visit www.aboutoliveoil.org.

    # # #


    Media Contacts:

     

    Bob Bauer, NAOOA

    Office: 732-922-3008

    Cell: 732-778-2126

     

    Bernice Neumann

    Cell : 407-803-2164

  • 28 Jul 2010 3:01 PM | Anonymous
    International Olive Council Blasts California Study
    Statement assures consumers of quality and health benefits of imported olive oils

    NEPTUNE, NJ (JULY 27, 2010) – The world’s authority on olive oil quality has blasted a just-published study funded by California olive growers that falsely states that imported oils fail quality standards. The International Olive Council (IOC) critique outlines a series of problems with the study including use of testing methods rejected by the IOC as unreliable, absence of the typical follow-up tests by unbiased laboratories to validate anomalies and a sample size that is not statistically significant.

    Both the IOC and the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) undefined the largest olive oil trade association in the United States and Canada undefined reiterate that consumers can buy imported olive oil with confidence. Imported olive oils make up 99 percent of the olive oil sold in the U.S.

    “Consumers can trust the quality, purity and value of heart-healthy imported olive oils,” said Bob Bauer, president of NAOOA. “The NAOOA abides by the strict production, labeling and testing standards for the IOC, because these standards ensure customers in the U.S. get what they pay for.”

    Every year, the NAOOA tests more than 200 samples of imported olive oils across the U.S. in IOC-certified labs. To put that in perspective, the University of California at Davis study tested a much smaller sample size of oils pulled only from California markets.

    The statistically insignificant samples were tested using certain outdated and unapproved methods rejected by science and the IOC. The IOC has repeatedly rejected certain tests because they have not proven to be reliable.

    In addition, the UC Davis study, potentially biased by its funding from California olive growers, was self-published rather than published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    For 20 years, the NAOOA, in conjunction with the IOC, has ensured that American and Canadian customers can buy quality, pure and heart-healthy olive oils produced in Europe and the Middle East. And every year, the NAOOA works with the IOC to consider the use of new science and technology to improve testing methods for quality and purity of olive oils.

    “Of the olive oil sold in stores throughout the U.S. tested by the NAOOA, on average approximately 99 percent meets the internationally recognized and science-based IOC standards,” said Bauer. “Our testing represents a true picture of what American consumers buy in grocery and specialty stores.”

    To further assure customers of the quality and authenticity of imported olive oil, the NAOOA established a certified quality seal program to recognize and promote olive oils that measure up to the industry’s standards of excellence. The program exemplifies the NAOOA’s long-standing commitment to educate consumers about the benefits of olive oil and ensures the integrity of the product.
     
    The non-profit IOC, created under the auspices of the United Nations, is the world’s only international and intergovernmental olive oil and table olive organization. IOC producer members account for 98 percent of world olive production. An important part of its mission includes supplying clear, accurate information and statistics on the world olive and olive oil market.

    ####

    Contacts: Bob Bauer, President NAOOA, 732-922-3008;

    Bernice Neumann, Exponent PR, 407-803-2164

  • 16 Jul 2010 2:59 PM | Anonymous
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Olive Oil Importers Question California Study, Mislabeling Claims
    North American Olive Oil Association rigorously tests imported olive oils and is fighting to establish consistent olive oil standards

    NEPTUNE, NJ (July 16, 2010) – Like too many studies about food, a recent University of California at Davis study on olive oil is causing confusion among consumers. In the U.S. market, 99 percent of the olive oil sold is imported, and the largest olive oil trade association is fighting to set the record straight about the authenticity, quality and health benefits of imported olive oils.

    “There are often rumors that products labeled as olive oil may not be 100 percent authentic,” said Bob Bauer, president of the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), a trade association representing marketers, packagers and importers of olive oil in the United States, Canada and their respective suppliers abroad.

    For 20 years, the NAOOA, in conjunction with the International Olive Council (IOC), which is the recognized worldwide body that sets quality standards for the olive oil industry, has been rigorously testing oils sold in the U.S. to verify quality and authenticity. Results prove that on average, 99 percent of the olive oil sold in stores throughout the U.S. meet the internationally recognized standards.

    “Through our ongoing, rigorous testing of olive oils by internationally recognized labs, I assure you that the imported olive oils sold by our members are labeled correctly,” Bauer stated. Members of NAOOA represent some of the largest national consumer, regional and private label brands.

    The UC-Davis study attempts to discredit the quality of imported olive oils. For its study, a much smaller sample size of oils was tested, pulling less than 20 oils from California markets. The NAOOA samples hundreds of oils purchased all across the country. The study also included some testing methods not recognized by the IOC.

    “We sample more than 200 olive oils a year and conduct rigorous chemical analysis through independent labs,” Bauer explained. “We’re finding that less than 10 percent of the oils tested have any problems and they, in total, typically represent less than 1 percent of the market. In fact, a condition of membership in the NAOOA is that members must meet the international standard. If our test results show they don’t, they will be removed from the association.”

    “The NAOOA is and has been a champion of quality olive oil for decades,” Bauer added. “We continue to take steps to protect consumers, including encouraging regulators at the federal and state level to follow the IOC standards to guarantee consumers a modern standard in identifying and labeling olive oil.”

    To further assure consumers of the quality and authenticity of imported olive oil, the NAOOA established a certified quality seal program to recognize and promote olive oils that measure up to the industry’s standards of excellence. The program exemplifies the NAOOA’s long-standing commitment to educate consumers about the benefits of olive oil and ensures the integrity of the product.

    “The bottom line is that imported olive oils are authentic, high-quality products. They offer many heart-healthy benefits, they are versatile for cooking, and they are a good value,” Bauer stated. “Importers’ products represent the majority of olive oil available to consumers – 99 percent – and it’s prudent that we uphold the high standards of quality consumers expect. It’s prudent to our industry as well.”
     

    ####

    Contacts:
    Bob Bauer, President NAOOA, 732-922-3008
    Bernice Neumann, Exponent PR, 407-803-2164
  • 09 Jul 2010 3:41 PM | Anonymous
    The federal government has become serious about virginity undefined at least when it comes to olive oil.

    Propelled by complaints about slippery food purveyors selling low-end product as high-end goods, or olive oils being doctored with cheaper canola, safflower or peanut oils, the U.S. Department of Agriculture this fall will roll out new standards to help ensure that consumers buying "100% extra virgin" olive oil get what they pay for.

    Demand for the greenish-gold oil is surging in American kitchens. Consumers here sopped up 79 million gallons in 2008 undefined up from 47 million gallons a decade earlier. And according to a trade group, consumers annually spend about $720 million on the stuff at supermarkets.

    But a lack of strict standards means the U.S. is awash in low-quality, adulterated and even dangerous oils that have made some consumers ill, according to experts. The new rules are voluntary undefined not mandatory undefined so the prospect of more slick shenanigans continues.

    Connecticut investigators tested dozens of bottles of olive oil from store shelves a few years ago after local producers and consumers complained that there was something fishy undefined or perhaps nutty undefined going on. They were right.

    "People were getting sick and thinking, 'It must be the poultry that I fried up in the olive oil last night,' or that it was a type of bread that had been exposed to nuts in the bakery," said Jerry Farrell Jr., commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Early this year, his team returned to the market aisles after hearing rumbles of more sly shortcuts.

    "It took a while for people to identify that the oil itself is the thing that was making them sick," Farrell said.

    Many industry officials agree that "extra virgin" olive oil is essentially oil that is cold-processed to prevent degradation of aromatic compounds and has higher levels of healthy fats and antioxidants. It also has relatively low acidity levels, 0.8 grams per 100 grams or less, according to the International Olive Council in Madrid, whose product standards the USDA rules are generally based upon.

    Federal law bars a company from not disclosing on the label that it is selling a blend of oils. But the practice of labeling lower-quality olive oil as top-end undefined and charging a premium for it undefined is technically legal in the U.S.

    The reason is simple: There are no federal rules that define what is undefined or is not undefined "virgin" or "extra virgin" olive oil, said Vito S. Polito, professor of plant sciences at UC Davis and co-chairman of the school's Olive Center, a research group.

    As a result, Polito said, "the U.S. has been a dumping ground for cheap olive oil for years." Most olive oil consumed in the United States is imported from nations including Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. California, which dominates the domestic industry, produced 850,000 gallons of olive oil worth about $17 million during the 2009-10 season.

    Although it's hardly the worst oil crisis facing the U.S. at present, the purity issue remains a serious one. People with health concerns or allergies often use olive oil for cooking. And extra virgin oil is marketed as a premium consumer product, and routinely commands an equally prime price: At the Pavilions grocery store in Seal Beach, a 750 milliliter bottle of Bertolli's extra virgin olive oil cost $14.29, while the same size bottle of Bertolli's extra light olive oil cost $7.99.

    Making extra virgin oil can be labor-intensive, with some producers hand-picking the olives while others manually bottle the oil. Lower quality oils, or adulterated oils, are cheaper to produce.

    Competition from those who use unsavory practices has become a significant problem for producers such as Antoinette and Shawn Addison. The California couple first planted olive trees in the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley in 2000 and dreamed of transforming their 25-acre farm into a high-end producer of artisanal oils.

    But when the couple met with grocers and food retailers, they sensed trouble. A 375-milliliter bottle of their Organic Estate Blend Extra Virgin Olive Oil sells for $16.95. Competitors sold theirs for $9.99 or less.

    "A lot of the stores didn't care what was in the bottles," said Antoinette Addison, whose Figueroa Farms has struggled to break even. "All they cared about was the fact that the label said 'extra virgin.' "

    A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees most food-label accuracy issues, said the agency does not regularly test olive oils for adulteration, and that it relies on tips about problems from the public, trade groups and others.

    Bob Bauer, president of the North American Olive Oil Assn., said the majority of what consumers buy in stores is legitimate product. The group routinely alerts the FDA to problems: He said 3% to 4% of the 200 to 300 olive oil samples his group tests each year are adulterated or mislabeled.

    "We've petitioned the FDA to create a standard of identity, which would define in black and white what olive oil is and is not," said Bauer, whose group represents the majority of the companies that import oil into the U.S. "They never acted on the petition."

    Some state lawmakers also are trying to cork the problem. California and Oregon, like Connecticut, have rolled out their own state regulations. (The California regulation established definitions for various grades of olive oil; it requires such oils sold in the state to be labeled according to international standards.)

    New York is expected to join them by this fall, and a bill on the issue has been introduced in the New Jersey Legislature, Bauer said.

    Among other things, the USDA regulations set chemical parameters for freshness and oil purity; for fatty acid levels, which helps distinguish seed oils from olive oils; and for ultraviolet light absorption, which tells how fresh the oil is and how pure the process was during preservation. They include tasting reviews conducted by a panel of USDA experts.

    However, companies only have to follow these regulations if their products have the federal seal of approval on their labels, or if retailers buying their oil require it.

    "It's like saying you have to stop at stop signs, but there are no cops at the corner," said Paul Vossen, a University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor for Sonoma County. "Standards are a good start, but enforcement is important."

    By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times
    July 07, 2010
  • 19 Nov 2009 1:58 PM | Anonymous
    Olive oil is without a doubt the fat which has the best health effects.

    In addition to its protective effect against cardiovascular diseases, many recent studies have shown that it can also play an important role in preventing Alzheimer's disease.

    Contrary to popular belief, hereditary factors are only responsible for a small number (25%) of Alzheimer cases, the vast majority (75%) being caused randomly by our own genetic baggage and a number of environmental factors, such as poor diet, physical and intellectual inactivity and smoking.

    The huge impact of our lifestyle on the risk of Alzheimer's is good news, because it allows us to adopt preventative strategies to considerably reduce our risk of contracting the disease.

    Alzheimer's is characterized by two main anomalies in the nervous system: Neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques. These senile plaques are caused by the excessive secretion and aggregation of a protein called beta amyloid that provokes the formation of insoluble deposits that accumulate as plaques over time around cells.

    These plaques are extremely toxic because they cause the death of neurons and lead to the gradual deterioration of cognitive function.

    The discovery of molecules that can block the formation of these senile plaques could thus considerably slow down the development of Alzheimer's in addition to other extraordinary health benefits.

    In recent years, many studies have identified nutritional compounds that have anti-Alzheimer properties because of their ability to interfere with the creation of senile plaques. For example, resveratol in red wine, the spice turmeric and EGCG, the main polyphenol found in green tea.

    All of these are capable of blocking the formation of the plaques suggesting that consuming these items could help reduce the risk of neurological degeneration. Olive oil is another consumable that could contribute to the prevention of Alzheimer's.

    For one, olive oil's high content of fatty acids increases levels of good cholesterol (HDL), which has a positive impact on the brain as low levels of HDL have been repeatedly associated with cognitive decline and dementia.

    Virgin or extra-virgin olive oils also contain high levels of the polyphenols that could help in slowing down the formation of senile plaques. For example, a recent study showed that one of these compounds, oleocanthal, reduced the aggregation of the beta amyloid peptide and interrupted its binding to the surfaces of neurons.

    This process protects the cells from the toxic effect of the peptide. This is even more interesting when it is pointed out that other studies have shown that oleocanthal also has a strong anti-inflammatory ability, similar to ibuprofen.

    This property could play an equally important role in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

    The positive impact of compounds in olive oil on the formation of senile plaques illustrates once again the way our dietary habits can influence the development of many chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Try going for a virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, both for their higher content of polyphenols and for their superior taste.

    In fact, the two qualities are related, as the oleocanthal in the oil is the same compound that causes the tickling sensation in your throat when you consume a good quality olive oil.
  • 18 Dec 2008 1:57 PM | Anonymous
    Extra-virgin olive oil, which is produced by pressing olives without the use of heat or chemical treatments, contains phytochemicals that are otherwise lost in the refining process. The Spanish researchers separated extra-virgin olive oil into fractions and tested these against breast cancer cells in the lab. They found that all the fractions that contained major extra-virgin phytochemical polyphenols (lignans and secoiridoids) effectively inhibited the breast cancer gene HER2.

    The study was published in current issue of BMC Cancer.

    "Our findings reveal for the first time that all major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress overexpression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells," Javier Menendez, of the Catalan Institute of Oncology, said in a BioMed Central news release.

    While the study results offer new insights into how extra-virgin olive oil may help reduce HER2 breast cancer risk, the findings must be viewed with caution.

    "The active phytochemicals [i.e. lignans and secoiridoids] exhibited tumoricidal effects against cultured breast cancer cells at concentrations that are unlikely to be achieved in real life by consuming olive oil," the researchers noted.

    However, they also said their findings, "together with the fact that humans have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti-breast cancer drugs."
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North American Olive Oil Association
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