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Consumers now have a simple benchmark by which they can determine whether a particular olive oil meets their quality expectations, with the introduction of a quality control program from the North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA). A voluntary testing process is available to all of the association’s members, and those that make the cut will receive a seal of quality.
“The certified quality seal program exemplifies the NAOOA’s long-standing commitment to educate consumers about the benefits of olive oil, and ensures the integrity of the product,” explained Bob Bauer, president of the Neptune, N.J.-based organization. “It also lets products marketed by NAOOA members stand out from the competition, with good reason. These companies have taken the initiative to lead the industry by voluntarily following a standard that’s far more stringent than what’s required by the U.S. government.”
Since the group’s inception in 1989, added Bauer, NAOOA’s members have agreed to follow this standard, with products subject to testing as a condition of their membership. “Seal program participants agree to undergo even more frequent testing,” he adds.
For its products to bear the new seal, a company must be an NAOOA member in good standing, and the type of oil carrying the seal must be tested to be sure it meets or exceeds the International Olive Council (IOC) standard for olive oil. The IOC is recognized globally as the quality-standard-setting body for the olive oil industry.
“There are often rumors that products labeled as olive oil may not be 100 percent authentic,” added Bauer. “The results of our ongoing testing program demonstrate that consumers can be confident about what they’re buying. The NAOOA seal will give them an added level of confidence.”
An annual membership fee for the program enables the association to carry out rigorous quality testing of each product at least twice annually. The fees permit the NAOOA to educate consumers about the benefits of unadulterated olive oil.
In addition to the quality seal, the organization recently began asking states to adopt the international standard for olive oil. These regulations stipulate that olive oil production and labeling must comply with a set of quality standards similar to those established by the IOC. These standards make it illegal to manufacture, pack, possess or sell any blended oil purporting to be an olive oil without proper identification of the ingredients. To date, California, Oregon and New York have passed state standards, and legislators in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland have expressed support for creating such a standard in their respective states, according to the NAOOA.