Olive Crazy: All About Olives and Olive Oil
Oct 152011

Congratulations to Senator Lois Wolk, California Senate District 5. Her bill, SB 818, regarding extra virgin olive oil standards in California passed and was signed into law last week. The law lays the groundwork to protect consumers and provide a fair marketplace for growers and producers.

Here is the press release from Senator Wolk’s office.

“SACRAMENTO—Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed legislation into law today that takes the first step in leveling the playing field between the fast-growing California olive oil industry and imported brands that dominate the market with largely low-quality products mislabeled as “extra virgin” olive oil.

“I applaud the Governor’s decision to sign Senate Bill 818,” said Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), the bill’s author, and chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Olive Oil Production and Emerging Products. “This law is a necessary first step if we want to protect consumers, who are demanding more and more of this healthy product, and provide California olive growers and olive oil producers a fair marketplace in which they can compete and thrive.”

Wolk’s SB 818 tightens standards for “extra virgin” olive oil, bringing California’s standards into conformity with recently updated USDA standards consistent with those commonly accepted abroad, including in major olive oil producing countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Turkey. The bill had unanimous, bipartisan support throughout its passage through the State Legislature.

Recent studies show that “extra virgin” olive oil label is widely misused by imported olive oils.  In fact, a 2010 report by UC Davis found that analyzed olive oil sold at retail in three California regions found that 69 percent of the imported samples did not meet international and USDA standards for “extra virgin” olive oil.

“I thank Senator Wolk for authoring this legislation and for her efforts to call attention to this ongoing issue,” said Brady Whitlow, president of Corto Olive, a family-owned olive grower and olive oil producer based in the Lodi region. “Mislabeled olive oil is a very real issue which not only hurts California consumers but has the potential to devastate this state’s emerging olive oil industry and limit our ability to expand and create new jobs.”

“Now, using the clear standards set in place by this new law, California can now begin to pursue options for enforcement,” Wolk concluded.”

May the sun shine through your branches.


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