04 Oct

California olive oil must meet global standards by law

Beginning Jan. 1, that bottle in the supermarket labeled “extra virgin olive oil” will need to meet international standards because of a new state law enacted by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week.

California law has long protected consumers against unscrupulous dealers selling imitation or blended oils as olive oil.

However, said state Sen. Patricia Wiggins, who authored the new rules, “state law does not define olive oil grades, and as a result the grades commonly seen on olive oil bottles – such as extra virgin – don’t need to meet any standards. … This will help consumers make informed choices based on consistent standards for quality.”

As well as protecting consumers, the new law will help foster California’s new and rapidly growing olive oil industry, assuring export buyers that their products meet international standards.

While the state produces roughly 500,000 gallons of olive oil, a fraction of the 75 million to 80 million gallons consumed in the United States annually, experts expect that to boom to 20 million gallons by 2020. Corto Olive, which has built a large-scale olive press northeast of Stockton, is part of that expansion.

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