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Following two states’ enactment of regulations governing olive oil, Baltimore-based Pompeian has become the first major brand to include on its label the new seal of quality developed last year by the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA).
To qualify for the seal, a company must be a member in good standing of the Neptune, N.J.-based trade group. All members’ oil must meet the standards of the International Olive Oil Council (IOC), a quasi-United Nations organization recognized worldwide as the quality-standard-setting body for the olive oil industry. Under the seal program, companies pay an annual fee covering promotion and ongoing product testing.
Connecticut adopted standards for olive oil sales last Nov. 5 as a way to prevent adulterated product from ending up on store shelves, and a similar law went into effect in California this past Jan. 1. Several other states are mulling similar legislation to protect consumers from misbranding. NAOOA president Bob Bauer identified New York as “the furthest one along now.”
Bauer said that the organization had worked with local producing groups to help get the Connecticut and California laws passed, and was providing educational outreach to such key states as New Jersey, Florida, Maryland and Massachusetts. Since the passage of the legislation in Connecticut and California, however, “a lot of the groundwork has already been done,” he observed.
“With [Connecticut and California’s] decisive action the oil crisis is officially over [m] misbranded, adulterated olive oil is a thing of the past there, and unsuspecting consumers will no longer be taken advantage of in those states,” noted Pompeian CEO Bill Monroe. “We strongly encourage other states to take similar action on behalf of American consumers.”
Beginning in the first quarter of 2009, Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive, Classic Mediterranean Olive Oil, and Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil will prominent display the NAOOA seal on the front of each label.
According to Bauer, “There are a few other brands that are ready [to display the labeling on their packages] and should be out any time in the early part of the year.” He added that other companies are waiting for promotion of the seal program to be in place before they commit to the qualification process.