Trade Group Petitions FDA for Olive Oil Standard of Identity

The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), a trade group, has filed a citizen petition with the United States Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to create a standard of identity (SOI) for olive oil and olive-pomace oils.

The NAOOA argues that the standards are necessary to protect American consumers and promote “honest and fair dealing” in the industry.

The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), a trade group, has filed a citizen petition with the United States Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to create a standard of identity (SOI) for olive oil and olive-pomace oils.

The NAOOA argues that the standards are necessary to protect American consumers and promote “honest and fair dealing” in the industry.

“To the extent an SOI will create a single uniform standard defining olive oil and olive-pomace oils, this will alleviate confusion about types and quality, and it will give more consumers confidence.”

“A standard of identity would create a uniform, national standard for olive oil,” Joseph R. Profaci, the executive director of the NAOOA, told Olive Oil Times. “We believe this would help remove long-standing barriers to Americans consuming more olive oil.”

“The adoption of our petition would bring clarity to olive oil labels, restrict the use of potentially misleading terms like ‘pure’ and ‘extra light,’ ensure olive oil authenticity by using the latest scientifically backed standards and methodologies and provide a novel way to update the standard in the future as science and technology evolve,” he added.

In 1979, the FDA ruled that there was no need for an olive oil standard, citing a lack of data in favor of having one. However, the agency left the door open to reconsidering the issue. 

The NAOOA unsuccessfully petitioned the FDA to update olive oil standards in1990 and 2012.

However, in 2018, the FDA announced that it would begin to look into adopting standards of identity for various agri-food sectors as a tool to “empower consumers to make better and more informed decisions about their diets and health.”

“It seems the FDA had olive oil in mind with this announcement,” Profaci said. “And this time we have supported our petition with consumer research data, which the FDA has indicated is critical for establishing a ‘need’ for a standard of identity.”

In the petition, the NAOOA argues that a new olive oil standard will help Americans make informed and healthy decisions about the products they buy and that U.S. government health policies inform consumers’ perceptions of the health benefits of certain foods.

However, the group asserts that the current olive oil standards confuse Americans and prevent them from consuming more olive oil. More