Dec 052014
 

2014 does not equal 2015This summer I was shopping for olive oil. I prefer buying US-grown extra virgin olive oil and ran out of all the latest US-harvested oils from 2013, and the 2014 US oils hadn’t been harvested yet. As is my habit I looked at the harvest dates on each bottle and noticed that one of the big California olive oil producers had a 2014 harvest date on all their labels.

I was surprised since I knew that this particular producer had not harvested in early 2014. I guessed that they had purchased some foreign olive oil that matched the taste profile of their oil and were reflecting the harvest date of the newer oil, or that it was just a mistake. It never occurred to me that something was wrong.

Earlier this year I read the new California Food and Agricultural Code section that created the state Olive Oil Commission. The Commission is comprised of olive oil producers and handlers who produce 5,000 gallons or more of olive oil in a period that extends from July 1st of a year through June 30th of the next year. Today I just reread that law before diving in to the subsequent rules and regulations promulgated under the auspices of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. These rules and regs were enacted on September 26 of this year.

Well! If what I am about to print isn’t just some sloppy legal drafting then it is an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of consumers. Check it out.

The following is from the labeling section of the new rules and regulations for olive oil grade and labeling standards:

11.3.6 Year of Harvest. If reference is made to a harvest date, then 100% of the olives used to make the oil must have been harvested during that time period. Because the harvest typically runs from October through January, the dating refers to it by the calendar year; for example the 2014-2015 harvest season is deemed to be the 2015 harvest. When oils from multiple years are combined and the year of harvest is indicated the label must indicate each of the harvest years contained therein. If the month and year of harvest are indicated then 100% of the oil must be from that period. If the season and year are indicted then 100% of the oil must be from that period.

What this says ladies and gentlemen is that California producers of 5,000+ gallons of olive oil annually can claim that their entire harvest is from the next year even if they complete their harvest prior to the end of the year, as long as it’s within the season. What it also alludes to is that producers of less than 5,000 gallons of olive oil a year are out of luck since they are not actually subject to this law.

Considering the updated harvest labeling that showed up on the bottles of olive oil I mentioned above, this is not a mistake. It is deliberate, by one, some, or all. Therefore it is designed to hoodwink consumers. The next time I hear or read one of those 5,000+ California producers or handlers complain about the fraudulent practices of the Europeans and the US olive oil importers I won’t be very sympathetic.

I doubt the author of the original law, Senator Wolk, had this regulated result  in mind. Grab a pen, some redrafting is in order.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

Sep 112012
 

I was at the local “big box” store purchasing school supplies for my youngest son. While traversing the aisles I passed an angry man arguing with a sales clerk. “I want what I bought, damn it” he hollered. I feel your pain buddy, I thought.

Was this man’s sentiment reasonable? I didn’t know, yet without knowing the circumstances surrounding his complaint, I was immediately sympathetic. Why? Because this is how I feel each time I place an item in my shopping cart. I too want what I bought – damn it!

This morning I read an article from the National Journal entitled Why a Lobbying Fight Broke Out Over Olive Oil. It evoked in me that visceral acrimony most of us feel when we or those we care about are wronged. I felt cheated – again, by those same folks who are perpetually cheating us purchasers of olive oil.

Here’s the bulletized back story to the article from the National Journal.

  • Scientific evidence and sensory evaluation proved that both adulterated (fake) olive oil and low-quality olive oil are posing as extra virgin (an actual legal designation) and are currently residing on your grocery shelf.
  • This stuff, which is not what you or I paid for, is being sold around the world to unsuspecting consumers.
  • The sellers of this stuff are major companies who know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and don’t care.
  • These major companies exercise control by making up the voting and decision-making membership on most European regulatory, standards, and trade organizations.
  • They laugh at us while smoking their big cigars and sipping their grappa. You think I’m kidding? I’m not.
  • United States olive growers and extra virgin olive oil producers got mad and decided to take action against this organized mob by developing a set of voluntary standards for themselves. This set of standards is called a marketing order and it only applies to olive oil producers from the United States – no one else.
  • Who could object to a US industry’s desire to self-regulate for the benefit of consumers? The same creeps that are controlling the non-regulation, non-standards, non-enforcement in Europe, that’s who.
  • In the United States the “creeps” operate through the North American Olive Oil Association, a trade association for olive oil importers. Not all olive oil importers are bad guys, but Olive Crazy is throwing the baby out with the bath water. They know what their colleagues are up to.
  • When the US olive growers and olive oil producers decided to regulate themselves, the membership of the NAOOA launched an attack campaign and created another fakery. They set up a group called the Alliance for Olive Oil Quality Standards. A rose by any other name … Now substitute for ‘rose’ a word depicting the smelly product of digestive elimination … Yup, that’s what I mean.
  • The Alliance for Olive Oil Quality Standards spent $80,000.00 to hire a powerful, Washington DC lobbying firm to coerce, with dinners and campaign contributions, the members of the United States Congress to kill the US olive growers and olive oil producers attempt to regulate their own industry. Why?
  • They don’t want us to get what we bought.
  • Damn it!!!!!!!

If you are sick of not getting what you bought then please take the advice of this lowly olive and olive oil enthusiast/champion of consumers everywhere/champion of all producers of great olive oil, and buy your olive oil from olive oil producers in your own country. Folks that you have learned to know and trust. Here are three of my current favorites in the United States:

The Olive Press (California)

California Olive Ranch (California)

Georgia Olive Farms (Georgia). Please note, they have a small grove and are sold out, but will have more evoo available later this fall or in the early winter. It’s great and it goes fast.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

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.

www.olivecrazy.com

Oct 122011
 

So after you took the time yesterday to read the loooong Olive Crazy article about the pending European Commission health claims and nutrition labelling legislation, and you decided that maybe you would rather not do business in Europe after all, don’t fret. There are plenty of organizations out there ready to take your money and guide you through the new laws.

I did a search for you and found two upcoming workshops. I don’t know any of these organizations so be careful.

EAS is giving a workshop on “surviving the EU claims regulation“. The workshop will be held in Brussels, Belgium on November 24th. According to the website, EAS international food policy experts will teach you how to successfully tackle the European Union’s (EU) Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation. Tackle is a good word and, after all, it is US football season.

Health Claims is holding a workshop on October 27th in Brussels. The title of the workshop is “Nutrition & Health Claims Europe – Designing Clinical Studies for Success“. For you folks who go to the website don’t forget to notice the chick with the too-tight jacket and exposed belly as she lovingly ogles a bottle of soy sauce. Maybe she will be teaching the workshop.

Another option is to check out law firms in your country that specialize in international business transactions. Good luck with your EU venture.

And don’t forget, Olive Crazy is high in polyphenols, and when read daily, will cure you of whatever’s ailing you.

May the sun shine through your branches.

www.olivecrazy.com

Oct 112011
 

For the last few years the European Union (EU) has been researching food-related health and nutrition claims in preparation for a major claims and labelling legislation overhaul. The reasons are easy – regulations go back as far as 1978 in some cases, there are a lot of new foods EU consumers are able to purchase, and without updated legislation there is no way to begin to protect consumers. Here is a link to the Citizen’s Summary describing the European Commission’s reasoning.

I looked over the EU’s current list of authorized and rejected health and nutrition claims. Mostly vitamins and minerals are on the approved list, and some obviously absurd food product claims are on the rejected list. Times and products have indeed changed and even though the claims and labelling changes are burdensome, I think they are necessary. My Granny would have said, “it’s the devil you must live with.”

The European Commission is now in the draft phase of a final ‘European Union Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation’. The draft of authorized and banned claims should be ready by the end of the year. The draft will combine two directives into a single piece of legislation. The two directives are: Labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs and nutrition labelling for foodstuffs.

Now we come to the part that involves olive products and olive oil health claims (Article 13). The organization that evaluated the research into olive and olive oil claims is the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In April 2011 they published their decisions.

The first is the Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) on the scientific substantiation of health claims on the food, olive oil as the claims relate to maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations, maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides, maintenance of normal blood HDL cholesterol concentrations and maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations. Here are the claims and the decisions:

Maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations

The claimed effects are “health of the cardiovascular system, general population” and “improves blood lipid profile”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wording and clarifications provided by Member States, the Panel assumes that the claimed effects refer to the maintenance of normal LDL-cholesterol concentrations. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations is a beneficial physiological effect.

In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that the evidence provided did not establish that olive oil consumption had an effect on blood LDL cholesterol concentrations beyond what could be expected from the fatty acid composition of olive oil, and that the only study which assessed the effects of olive oil while controlling for its fatty acid composition did not find any significant changes in LDL cholesterol concentrations when comparing olive oils with high, moderate and low polyphenol content.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of olive oil and maintenance of normal blood LDL cholesterol concentrations beyond what could be expected from the fatty acid composition of olive oil.

A claim on the replacement of mixtures of SFAs with cis-MUFAs and/or cis-PUFAs in foods or diets and maintenance of normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations has been assessed with a favourable outcome. A claim on linoleic acid and maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations has also already been assessed with a favourable outcome.

Maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides

The claimed effects are “health of the cardiovascular system, general population” and “improves blood lipid profile”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wording and clarifications provided by Member States, the Panel assumes that the claimed effects refer to the maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides may be a beneficial physiological effect.

When carbohydrates are replaced with fats, fasting triglyceride levels are reduced, but there is no difference between the effects of different fatty acid classes. In clinical trials, no differences have been observed between olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil and sunflower oil with respect to their effects on blood concentrations of triglycerides.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of olive oil and maintenance of normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides.

Maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations

The claimed effects are “health of the cardiovascular system, general population” and “improves blood lipid profile”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wording and clarifications provided by Member States, the Panel assumes that the claimed effects refer to the maintenance of normal HDL-cholesterol concentrations. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal HDL-cholesterol concentrations (without increasing LDL-cholesterol concentrations) is a beneficial physiological effect.

In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that based on its fatty acid composition olive oil is not expected to have an effect on HDL cholesterol concentrations, that a linear dose-response effect of olive oil polyphenols on HDL-cholesterol concentrations was observed in one study only, and that no evidence on a plausible mechanism by which olive oil polyphenols could exert an effect on HDL cholesterol concentrations has been provided.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of olive oil and maintenance of normal HDL-cholesterol concentrations.

Maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations

The claimed effect is “permet de réguler le glucoses dans le sang”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. The Panel assumes that the claimed effect refers to the maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations. The Panel considers that long-term maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations is a beneficial physiological effect.

No references were provided from which conclusions could be drawn for the scientific substantiation of the claimed effect.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of olive oil and maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations.

The second is the Opinion of the Scientific Committee/Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) on the scientific substantiation of of health claims related to polyphenols in the olive as the claims relate to protection of LDL particles from oxidative damage, maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations, maintenance of normal blood pressure, “anti-inflammatory properties”, “contributes to the upper respiratory tract health”, “can help to maintain a normal function of gastrointestinal tract”, and “contributes to body defences against external agents”. Here are the claims and the decisions:

Protection of LDL particles from oxidative damage

The claimed effects are “reduces oxidative stress”, “antioxidant properties”, “lipid metabolism”, “antioxidant activity, they protect body cells and LDL from oxidative damages”, and “antioxidant properties”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wordings, the Panel assumes that the claimed effects refer to the protection of low density lipoproteins (LDL) particles from oxidative damage. The Panel considers that protection of LDL particles from oxidative damage may be a beneficial physiological effect.

In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that a well conducted and powered study, and two smaller-scale studies, showed a dose-dependent and significant effect of olive oil polyphenol consumption (for three weeks) on appropriate markers of LDL peroxidation (oxLDL), that these results were supported by one short-term and one acute study, and by supportive markers of LDL peroxidation (conjugated dienes, ex vivo resistance of LDL to oxidation) going in the same direction, and that evidence for a biologically plausible mechanism by which olive oil polyphenols could exert the claimed effect has been provided.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has been established between the consumption of olive oil polyphenols (standardised by the content of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives) and protection of LDL particles from oxidative damage.

The Panel considers that in order to bear the claim, 5 mg of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex and tyrosol) in olive oil should be consumed daily. These amounts, if provided by moderate amounts of olive oil, can be easily consumed in the context of a balanced diet. The concentrations in some olive oils may be too low to allow the consumption of this amount of polyphenols in the context of a balanced diet. The target population is the general population.

Maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations

The claimed effect is “lipid metabolism”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wording, the Panel assumes that the claimed effect refers to the maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations (without increasing LDL-cholesterol concentrations) is a beneficial physiological effect.

In weighing the evidence, the Panel took into account that the results from the studies provided are inconsistent, and that no evidence for a biologically plausible mechanism by which olive oil polyphenols could exert the claimed effect has been provided.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that the evidence provided is insufficient to establish a cause and effect relationship between the consumption olive oil polyphenols (standardised by the content of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives) and maintenance of normal blood HDL cholesterol concentrations.

Maintenance of normal blood pressure

The claimed effect is “contributes to the maintenance of a normal blood pressure”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. The Panel considers that maintenance of normal blood pressure is a beneficial physiological effect.

No human studies were provided from which conclusions could be drawn for the scientific substantiation of the claimed effect.

On the basis of the data presented, the Panel concludes that a cause and effect relationship has not been established between the consumption of polyphenols in olive (olive fruit, olive mill waste waters or olive oil, Olea europaea L. extract and leaf) standardised by the content of hydroxytyrosol and its derivatives (e.g. oleuropein complex) and maintenance of normal blood pressure.

“Anti-inflammatory properties”

The claimed effect is “a potent source of olive biophenols with anti-inflammatory properties”. The target population is assumed to be the general population. In the context of the proposed wordings, the Panel considers that the claim refers to diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, in which a reduction of inflammation would be a therapeutic target for the treatment of the disease.

The Panel considers that the reduction of inflammation in the context of diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis is a therapeutic target for the treatment of the disease, and does not comply with the criteria laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

“Contributes to the upper respiratory tract health”

The claimed effect is “contributes to the upper respiratory tract health”. The target population is assumed to be the general population.

The claimed effect is not sufficiently defined and no clarification has been provided by Member States. The Panel notes that different health outcomes were mentioned in the information provided, and that it was not possible to establish which specific effect is the target for the claim.

The Panel concludes that the claimed effect is general and non-specific, and does not refer to any specific health claim as required by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

“Can help to maintain a normal function of gastrointestinal tract”

The claimed effect is “can help to maintain a normal function of gastrointestinal tract”. The target population is assumed to be the general population.

The claimed effect is not sufficiently defined and no clarification has been provided by Member States. The Panel notes that different health outcomes were mentioned in the information provided, and that it was not possible to establish which specific effect is the target for the claim.

The Panel concludes that the claimed effect is general and non-specific, and does not refer to any specific health claim as required by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

“Contributes to body defences against external agents”

The claimed effect is “contributes to body defences against external agents”. The target population is assumed to be the general population.

The claimed effect is not sufficiently defined and no clarification has been provided by Member States. The Panel notes that different health outcomes were mentioned in the information provided, and that it was not possible to establish which specific effect is the target for the claim.

The Panel concludes that the claimed effect is general and non-specific, and does not refer to any specific health claim as required by Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006.

May the sun shine through your branches

www.olivecrazy.com