That's what this is about: Be safe when buying olive oil

Olive oil is considered as one of the most counterfeit foods in the EU. In the USA and in Germany, it even ranks first among the most fraud-prone foods. For example, as reported on 14 May 2019, Europol, the Italian NAS Carabinieri and the Justice Department of Darmstadt in Germany had dismantled an olive oil counterfeiting ring and confiscated 150,000 litres of counterfeit olive oil. Sunflower and soya oil was mixed with chlorophyll and beta-carotene and sold to Germany as Italian extra virgin olive oil in large quantities.

The much more common method of fraud, however, is the deliberate misdeclaration of olive oil quality levels. Driven by the merciless price war in the shop shelves of supermarkets and discounters around the world, olive oil producers, cooperatives and bottlers present inferior olive oils as so-called first quality class - extra vergine. In Switzerland, this was last proven in May 2016 by the TV format Kassensturz des Schweizer Fernsehens. 9 out of 16 tested products failed the test. The title of the programme was: Olive oil in the test: The great vertigo with «Extra Vergine».

Since then, not much has changed in the unsatisfactory situation for consumers. Despite well-founded suspicions and the efforts of our northern neighbour Germany to better monitor the olive oil market, the authorities control the olive oils distributed in Switzerland with inadequate methods and insufficient regularity.

With the newly created «Swiss Olive Oil Award» platform, the Lucerne-based IOF - International Olive Foundation will, for the first time, be checking all olive oils advertised as extra virgin in the Swiss retail trade. The results of the first major study currently underway, in which around 200 olive oils from the best-known supermarkets and discounters in Switzerland are analysed chemically and sensorially, are to be published in autumn 2019. The best olive oils will be awarded. With the publication of the test results, IOF aims to provide consumers with the greatest possible transparency and information about Switzerland’s olive oil range.

What makes IOF's olive oil testing project so special?

IOF’s olive oil testing is accompanied and certified by a notary from the procurement of samples to the evaluation, which strengthens the credibility of this project. IOF thus shows that it is serious in the fight against olive oil fraud.

The olive oil tests are carried out by independent, state-approved specialist laboratories, which have also subjected themselves to the strict accreditation guidelines of IOF - International Olive Foundation.

The results of the tests are made available to the public via the Swiss media as well as the website www.international-olive-foundation.org

On the basis of the evaluation of the test results, concrete statements can be made about the olive oil quality in the Swiss food retail trade in general, but also in the individual supermarkets and discounters.

In autumn / winter 2019, IOF will also publish the results of the first olive oil test in a web-based olive oil database (GOOD - Global Olive Oil Database). The database will then be updated continuously and supplemented with new test results from new tests. It is intended to assist consumers in purchasing olive oil.

Detailed information on the project can be found at any time at https://www.international-olive-foundation.org/swiss-olive-oil-award

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This is why IOF needs support

IOF - International Olive Foundation is a non-profit organization that has consumer protection as a top priority on its agenda. The organisation of the Swiss Olive Oil Award with its strict olive oil tests is a proven, albeit capital-intensive, means to meet this purpose.

The organisation and implementation of the Swiss Olive Oil Award, above all the technically very demanding olive oil testing, is very costly, which is why IOF is dependent on donations.

The sensory testing of all olive oils available in the Swiss retail trade alone accounts for around CHF 18,000. The complete chemical analyses according to legal guidelines even cost over 200,000 Swiss francs. Determining the origin of the oils using NMR analysis costs around 50,000 francs. In addition, there are costs for organisation, administration, sample procurement, sample preparation, logistics, data evaluation, statistics preparation and the services of the notary. If one considers this financial aspect, it is not surprising that olive oils in Switzerland are so rarely tested correctly and completely.

The acceptance of donations from institutional industry representatives is delicate and often cannot be approved by the IOF Board, which is why IOF tries to finance part of the project via crowdfunding.

IOF is very grateful for any donation.

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