Olive Oil Testing

In Australia, the Australian Olive Oil Association (AOOA) is responsible for assisting the IOC in monitoring and regular random testing of major brands of olive oil sold in Australia. Since 1993, samples have been regularly collected every year and sent to IOC headquarters where they are processed through rigorous testing in independent expert laboratories.

As the peak industry body in Australia, and a associate of the IOC , the AOOA is the primary source of information relating to the quality standards and other activities of the International Olive Council. The AOOA believes that an international standard for olive oil continues to be critical to the fair development of competition and regulation in the future of the olive oil industry. The IOC ensures that quality standards continue to evolve consistently across the globe to accommodate changes in production methods/geographies and testing sciences without unnecessarily exposing the industry to quality and adulteration risks.

For distributors and producers, testing olive oil against the IOC standards is important to make sure that the labels match the grade of product. The AOOA is able to provide guidance and assistance to distributors wanting to ensure that they are being sold the quality they paid for, and to help producers check the quality of their product. Contact the AOOA to talk to us about arranging independent laboratory testing for your olive oil products. To send us a message scroll to the bottom of this page or email us at info@aooa.com.au.

The 101 of olive oil testing

“Olive oil is the oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.), to the exclusion of oils obtained using solvents or re-esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds.

- Trade Standard Applying to Olive Oils and Olive Pomace Oils, IOC

Creating and maintaining an up-to-date standard for the assessment of olive oil grades is no simple task. Due to the high value of olive oil, it has historically been a target for fraud that may come in the form of substitution or blending with other oils, or simply the incorrect grading of a lower quality olive oil as a higher quality grade. As such, the International Olive Council (IOC) leads the international industry in the development, monitoring and regular updating of quality standards that set out the specifications and rules required to meet each grade of olive oil. Testing of olive oil is designed to assess 3 areas: Purity (concerning the authenticity of a sample as being olive oil and not other oils), Quality (concerning the grade of olive oil achieved) and Residues (concerning levels of contaminants such as pesticides in the oil). Testing and grading criteria olive oil are particularly complex, however can be considered in two areas: physico-chemical testing and sensory testing.

Physico-chemical testing

involves scientific methods for testing that must be completed in accredited IOC laboratories. A large number of tests are required to prove purity, quality and residue levels of an olive oil. Perhaps the most known measure of olive oil quality is the free acidity (expressed as oleic acid), which is one of the primary components in determining the grade of olive oil (the lower the value, the higher the quality). IOC accreditation for physico-chemical testing is re-assessed yearly using proficiency tests.

Sensory testing

involves a panel of at least 8 certified tasters plus an experienced panel leader and is to be conducted in accredited IOC laboratories according to strict rules regarding setup and process. Panels are primarily concerned with defects (negative attributes) and positive attributes, with the score for an olive oil being assessed as the median of the score awarded by the panel members. Panel testing only occurs for virgin olive oils. Due to the inherent subjectivity or potential for human bias, panel testing under European law, in case the government has to place disciplinary measures to a given olive oil, occurs only if the sample has been assessed by at least 3 full and separate panels (ie. a minimum of 24 people tasting the sample). In order to ensure ongoing accuracy and tasting proficiency, panels and their individual members must be regularly reviewed and re-assessed for accreditation.

Olive Oil is marketed in accordance with the designations and definitions found here:

To find out more about the IOC and the chemistry of olive oil, click here.

Role of the IOC

More about the The International Olive Council.

Olive Oil Testing

Find out more about testing

Olive Oil Grading

What the grades are and how they are graded.

Other Regulations

Regulations in Australia for the Industry.