Good Oil On Olive Oil

As anybody who watched television commercials about 40 or years ago knows, oils ain’t oils.

Back then, it was all about the stuff that goes into car engines, now there’s genuine concern about the quality of the oils we put into our own bodies.

More specifically, there’s an industry initiative to test batches of extra virgin olive oil to ensure that they are up standard.

Run by the Australian Olive Association, the Olive Oil Quality Monitoring Program will conduct tests on randomly selected local and imported products.

Association chief executive Michael Southan told the ABC, “It allows the industry in Australia to take a snapshot of the quality of the olive oil produced domestically as well as the olive oils that are being imported.”

Australian produced olive oil is recognised as among the best in the world, and the local industry is keen to promote and protect that reputation.

There is some concern about imported products, which are sometimes misrepresented.

Fakery is not a new thing – it goes back to ancient Roman times – and common tricks include mixing new produce with old batches, with chemically altered inferior types, or with other oils such as soy or grapeseed.

“We want to make sure that consumers who are paying good money for these products are getting what they expect, and what they are paying for,” Mr Southan said.

His hope is that when bad-faith players overseas hear that Australia is testing the quality of imported oil, then they will send only their finest product and send the inferior blends elsewhere.

How to select the best

Choose varieties that are in dark glass or stainless-steel containers that protect the oil from light exposure.

Avoid plastic containers because they don’t block light and harmful chemicals from the bottle may dissolve into the oil.

Check the label for press method (cold-pressed or cold-extracted are best), acid level (below 0.8% for extra virgin oil), and harvest date (the more recent, the better).

If you get the chance to taste the oil before you buy, it should smell fruity and be slightly bitter with peppery notes. If it makes you cough, it’s the real deal.

Related reading: ABC, Epicurious, Australian Olives, Olive Knowledge


Brett Debritz

Brett Debritz

Communications Specialist, National Seniors Australia

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