A new Australian Standard AS 5264 Olive oils and olive-pomace oils was published on 20 July 2011.
The purpose of the Standard is to provide consumers with a clear indication of the nature and style of olive oils and olive-pomace oils they are purchasing and to prevent substitution of inferior quality olive oil or other (non-olive) oils in olive oil sold in Australia. Previously there was no Australian Standard for olive oil.
The Standard applies to all olive oils and olive-pomace oils that are traded in Australia and defines grades such as ‘Extra Virgin’ and ‘Virgin’, specifies chemical composition and quality parameters and establishes requirements for labelling and packing.
The grades in the Standard have been established to accommodate the most common natural variations, particularly in Australian olive oils, without compromising the ability to detect adulteration.
‘Following past concerns over the labelling and claims in relation to quality this Standard is excellent outcome for consumers’ said CFA Committee Representative, John Furbank. ‘Many of the suggestions submitted by CFA and Choice, particularly in regard to labelling, have been included’.
The Standard limits the descriptions for labelling the different grades of edible natural olive oils, refined olive oils and olive-pomace oils including ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’, ‘Virgin Olive Oil’ and ‘Refined Olive Oil’.
The descriptions must be prominent and clearly legible in full in the principal display panel of the label. Other designations such as Olive Oil, Pure Olive Oil, Light or Lite Olive Oil, Extra Light or Lite Olive Oil are not permitted by the Standard.
‘Cold pressed’ and ‘cold extraction’ are defined and may only be used where the information can be substantiated and does not mislead consumers.
The Standard is voluntary and as such has no regulatory status. However consumers may shortly start looking for labels stating ‘complies with AS 5264’ and similar. Such a Standard, once established, also provides ACCC with a useful yardstick with which to deal with fraudulent claims.
John is the CFA Representative on Standards Australia Committee FT-034 Olive Oil