California Department of Food and agriculture officials approved grading and labeling standards for California olive oil just ahead of the olive harvest.
The standards take effect Sept. 26.
The standards were recommended by the recently-formed California Olive Oil Commission in recognition of the fast-growing industry.
The standards will set California-specific guidelines that will apply to handlers producing 5,000 gallons or more of olive oil made from olives grown in California. Importers and distributors of bulk olive oil produced outside of California as well as smaller-scale in-state millers are exempt from the standards.
“California agriculture has an enviable reputation for high-quality products sought by consumers here and around the world,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “We believe the time has come to designate a ‘California-grown’ olive oil, and these standards are an excellent way to do it.”
The standards, which are based on scientific research at the UC Davis Olive Center, are unique to California production – only extra-virgin olive oil is produced here, and the standards will establish a more stringent limit for free fatty acids, a negative attribute that signals a breakdown of olive oil quality due to exposure to heat, light and oxygen. The standards will be the first in the world to require testing of every lot of oil produced.