19 Nov

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission eyes olive oil claims

By Leslie White,

AUSTRALIA’S competition watchdog will investigate the apparent failure of some imported olive oils to live up to their premium “extra virgin” label.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry follows tests by a NSW Government laboratory that found many imported oils labelled as extra virgin were actually a lower grade oil, were heat treated or had other flaws.

Extra virgin olive oil represents the highest quality oil as it is obtained from cold-pressing olives, without heat treatment or refining.

While the ACCC would not confirm or deny any investigation into issues arising from the test results, The Weekly Times understands the investigation is to begin this Friday.

Chairman Graeme Samuel had previously said the ACCC could act on conduct that was deceptive or misleading, regardless of the lack of a legal standard defining the different grades of olive oil in Australia.

Boundary Bend Olives executive chairman Rob McGavin welcomed the investigation.

“That’s great news,” Mr McGavin said.

“There are problems (with labelling in Australia) . . . everyone should have to comply with the law regardless of whether companies are local or offshore.”

Gingilly Extra Virgin Olive Oil managing director David Carr said the news was “very positive”.

“There should be some transparency in labelling,” Mr Carr said.

“The Australian code of practice makes sure we’re compliant and transparent, we’re trying to level up the playing field.”

Redisland chief executive Paul Challis said he would “welcome the involvement of the ACCC”.

“The quality of extra virgin olive oil is important to consumers, and anything that assists them in assessing this would be a help,” Mr Challis said.

The test results and their subsequent publication have drawn an angry response from Spanish olive oil giant Carbonell, which has written to the Australian Olive Association demanding to see the testing and the methodology behind it.

The tests also sparked calls for legislated olive oil standards.

Mr Samuel had told The Weekly Times legislated standards could help to distinguish between “mild variations”.

[Source] Click here

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