Sep 272011

Medical professionals I met while recovering from salmonella say there is a rise in foodborne illnesses in the United States, and the rise is due to misinformation. The misinformation is that hand sanitizers are as good as soap and water for cleaning hands. This is untrue. The worst part is that this untruth has been known for over a decade by the US Food and Drug Administration and other governmental agencies, yet manufacturers of hand sanitizers are still permitted to advertise their claim of killing up to 99.9% of germs. The claim is for surfaces, like counter tops, but not for skin.

I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores of all this mess, because the point is – before handling food, wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. When moving from meat to vegetables, meat to meat, and vegetables to vegetables, etc. wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. After going to the toilet, taking a smoke break, texting your roommate, changing your child’s diaper, touching anything, and before handling food, wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

Now, before you leave the computer to go munch on some olives or dip some crusty bread in extra virgin olive oil from that freshly opened bottle of Arbequina – go wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

May the sun shine through your branches.

Jul 092011

The regulation of olive oil labelling and branding for food consumption isn’t all the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is involved in.

The FDA also regulates the cosmetics industry. An update to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 died with the end of the 111th Congress (2009-2010 term). BUT! Negotiations by several for-profit and non-profit groups to reintroduce the legislation, as is, and/or in an altered state, are ongoing with current Members of Congress (the 112th Congress). These groups apparently think the reintroduction of the Safe Cosmetics Act is impending.

How does this affect the olive industry? As you have seen in recent years, olive oil is more frequently used in soaps, lotions, and other cosmetics for use by adults and children. Olive oil as a non-food commodity is a growing market. How deep the market is – is another matter.

Currently, there is a FDA regulatory exemption for soap, provided the “soap” meets the FDA’s definitions. The definitions can be found in the FDA’s article entitled “Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)“. As far as exemptions go – that’s it.

It is very important for members of the olive industry to keep an eye not only on regulations pertaining to olive and olive oil as food or pharmaceuticals, but as non-foods as well.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Jun 202011

Last year the United States Congress beefed up its food and drug safety legislation to increase the number of products that will be regulated as pharmaceuticals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new regulations are still being developed but the determinations and decisions are coming.

In February, the FDA sent a warning letter to the Pompeian company regarding what they refer to as the “misbranding” of “Pompeian Imported Extra Light Olive Oil”. Here is part of the determination from the letter:

“Based on claims made on your website,, we have determined that the product “Pompeian Imported Extra Light Olive Oil” is promoted for conditions that cause the product to be a drug under section 201(g)(1) of the Act [21 USC § 321(g)(1)]. The therapeutic claims on your website establish that the product is a drug because it is intended for use in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease. The marketing of this product with these claims violates the Act.”

Even though, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has lax olive oil standards, see my article, “Olive Oil Standards Get a Facelift“, strict standards and regulations for domestic producers and olive oil importers regarding labelling and representation of content will come through the FDA.

This is an issue that I am going to be following more rigorously. It is a game changer.

May the sun shine through your branches.