Australian olive oil growers must look further afield for official Extra Virgin certification if they require it this year. The only tasting panel in Australasia trained in International Olive Council (IOC) procedures which has been used to certify olive oils as extra virgin has not been recognised by the international body in 2019.
The NSW Oil Testing Service conducted by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries in Wagga Wagga has been advised by the IOC that while the laboratory has been accredited for 2019,their tasting panel will not be accredited to determine extra virgin status or other grades in 2019. The accreditation for the Sensory Panel is reviewed once every year and the panel cannot reapply for accreditation until 2020.
The Wagga Wagga NSW Oil Testing Service had been accredited by IOC for laboratory olive oil testing services in Australia since 2000, and for sensory evaluation since 2004.
No other laboratories in Australia offer sensory analysis or are accredited by the IOC.
We contacted a past leader of an IOC panel who wished to remain anonymous and we asked how this process might have worked. “Like all inter-laboratory tests, they send you samples and ask for your panels’ classification. Is it Extra virgin, Virgin, or Lampante? It’s a ring test. If your panel doesn’t agree with the deliberations of the majority of other panels, and particularly those of a designated group of very mature and very experienced panels out of Spain and Italy then you’re out”.
What happens for 2019 sensory analysis testing?
No other laboratories in Australia offer sensory analysis that are recognised by the IOC.
While the NSW DPI panel has the experience to offer an expert opinion as to the classification of an olive oil both analytically and sensorially, if producers are to comply with a legally-enforceable International standard in 2019 they will need to seek the results from a taste panel recognised by the IOC located outside of Australia.
The nearest IOC Accredited Sensory Panels are located in Argentina, Chile, Japan, Uruguay or USA. More