EU project OLEUM: Better solutions to protect olive oil quality and authenticity
Although there is no harmonised definition for “food fraud” in Europe, it is broadly accepted that food fraud is the deliberate placing on the market with the intention of financial gain through consumer deception (1). Olive oil has been highlighted as one of the foods most at risk of fraud in the EU (2), with a significant financial impact.
The most common types of olive oil fraud are illegal blending with other vegetable oils or low quality olive oils (e.g. soft-deodorized), deliberate mislabelling of less expensive commercial categories of olive or other oils, and mislabelling of geographical origin or Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) declaration. A lack of efficient and harmonised analytical methods for detecting olive oil fraud has led to significant weaknesses that can be exploited by counterfeiters. Incidents of olive oil fraud can generate high-profile media scandals. These events undermine trust in olive oil products and can lead to consumer concerns about the authenticity, or worse, the safety of olive oil products on the market. Europe is the world’s largest olive oil producer, and is currently responsible for approximately 70% of global production (3). In the long-term, a lack of trust in the quality and authenticity of olive oil, which is celebrated for their sensory and nutritional benefits, has the potential to damage the reputation and competitiveness of the European olive oil sector.
Gallina Toschi T., Valli E., Conte L., García-Gonzáles D. L., Maquet A., Brereton P., Mcgrath N., Celemín L.F., Bendini A. EU project OLEUM: Better solutions to protect olive oil quality and authenticity, Agro Food Industry Hi-Tech, 28 (5), 2-3 (2017).