Olive oil “confusion” to cease at Coles by end of 2012
The Australian Olive Association (AOA) has applauded Australian supermarket chain Coles on its decision to comply with the voluntary Australian Standard for Olive Oils and Olive Pomace Oils by the end of 2012.
The acceptance by Coles of the Australian Standard will see the removal of ambiguous or inappropriate labels such as “pure” and “light.”
Coles Merchandise director John Durkan has confirmed that all Coles brand olive oils, whether Australian made or imported, will meet the Australian Standard by the end of December 2012. The Standard provides consumer protection by defining different grades of oil, including extra virgin, and detailing the testing methods which can be used to ensure that products for sale are what they claimed to be on the label.
Lisa Rowntree, CEO of the Australian Olive Association said that the Coles announcement was good news for Australian consumers who according to recent AOA research are still “often confused and misled by old labelling methods.”
“Consumers will now have the opportunity to choose between ‘Extra Virgin Olive Oil’ or ‘Olive Oil, with misleading terms ‘Pure’ and ‘Extra Light’ removed from the shelf. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the naturally produced juice of fresh olives, whist products labelled Olive Oil are made from a blend of refined and virgin olive oils and therefore do not carry the same health benefits or unique flavours as Extra Virgin,” Ms Rowntree said.
According to the Australian Olive Association, the majority of olive oils available in Australian supermarkets and food-service venues still do not comply with the new Australian Standard.
The voluntary olive oil industry standard is not a legislated standard because it is not part of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. However, the ACCC, as Australia’s consumer protection watchdog, has adopted the industry standard as a basis for interpretation and enforcement of the olive oil quality descriptions understood by reasonable consumers.
Earlier this year, Australian Food News reported actions taken by the ACCC against producers of some olive oil products that had used not-complying label descriptors. The ACCC indicated at that time that it would also be speaking to retailers of such products.
The ACCC is known to have been monitoring mis-descriptions of olive oils since at least 2009, when enforcement action was first reported by Australian Food News.
By contrast to Coles, the ALDI supermarket group moved quickly in 2009 to work closely with the Australian olive oil industry.