SGS Informs on Frauds on Olive Oil Fraud and Testing Solutions

Olive oil is one of the most frequently economically adulterated food products. Therefore, it is no surprise that there are concerns that a fresh wave of adulteration is on the way.

Fairfield, NJ, January 13, 2015 --( To help alleviate these concerns, the EU, Italy and United States olive oil industry and their laboratories have developed methods to test for, and combat this fraud.

Harvest Drops and Olive Oil Frauds

Spain, one of the world leading producers of olives for olive oil, has reported a severe drought that resulted in a loss of 600,000 tons of olives ( Unfortunately Spain produces about 40% of the world’s olive oil production and this loss will force up the already high price of olive oil. With price increases, the opportunity and desire arises to sell low cost materials, low cost olive oil or blends of both, as high quality extra virgin olive oil, or even as 100% pure olive oil (

Another factor in this fraudulent game, is trying to pass off one country’s olive oil for another country’s product, which may have a better reputation and will provide more revenue. With supply down and demand up 60% in the last 20 years (, there are fraudsters looking to cash in on the market. There are currently 47 olive producing countries and olive oil is consumed in 110 countries. The olive oil industry, the EU, and private laboratories have been developing programs to combat this fraud.

EU Legislative Actions to Combat Olive Oil Fraud

Over the last few years, the EU parliament and council have issued new legislation in order to combat olive oil fraud, in addition to the prior standard EEC 2568/91, which established the characteristics of olive oil, olive residue oil and the relevant method of analysis.

These parameters were amended on 26 March 2013 by EU 299/2013 which established quality parameters such as sensory, free fatty acids, peroxide value, wax, K-values and alkyl ester. EU 299/2013 also established identity/purity parameters, fatty acid composition, sterol content as well as additional parameters.

EU regulation 1308/2013 establishes the commercial definitions of olive oils, such as extra virgin, virgin, ordinary, lampant, olive oil (refined and virgin) and kernel oil, but also requirements, characteristics, production and free fatty acid content.

Italy Defines Olive Oil Quality Levels

Italy is the second largest producer of olive oil. In 2013, the government passed a registration/tracking requirement that applied to the mills, bulk oil dealers, packers and processors of the olives. The single registration system now extends throughout the entire production process. The olive producers are now included with refineries, processors, traders and other contractors who have been added to the mandated reporters. The purpose of this is to increase transparency of the Italian olive oil business and tracking of the different quality levels of olive oil.

California and Olive Oil Labeling

The Olive Oil Commission of California had the State of California Department of Food and Agriculture pass legislation that becomes effective September 26. As part of the drive to grow the olive oil business this legislation has strict labeling, testing registration and tracking requirements*. These standards are stricter than those in the EU.

Olive Oil Testing to Avoid Fraud

The new regulations to reduce the incidence of olive oil economic fraud have changed the landscape for the testing requirements. The EU regulations require trained sensory panelists, under ISO 17025, to perform the sensory evaluation. SGS Germany, in conjunction with SGS Spain, has established the necessary programs in order to provide this service to the industry.

With the new regulations, standards and the advances in testing, the expectation is to reduce the level of olive oil fraud and allow the public to purchase olive oil having the confidence that the product in the container is really as described on the label.


* State of California - Proposed Grade and Labeling Standards for Olive Oil, Refined-Olive Oil and Olive-Pomace Oil

About SGS Food Safety Services

Implementing a food safety management system is not enough. At every stage of the food supply chain businesses need to ensure that they can rely on the veracity of suppliers. Leveraging a global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions including analytical tests (, audits and certifications to help clients reduce risk, improve food safety and quality.

For more information, please contact the SGS experts.
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Jim Cook
+1 973 461 1493
Food Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Manager
SGS North America, Inc.