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NZ Olive Oil Up With the Best in the World

Media Release For immediate release 12 December 2006

The Olives New Zealand Sensory Panel for Olive Oil Up With the Best in the World

The International Olive Council (IOC) has just announced that the Olives New Zealand Sensory Panel has been accredited for 2006 / 2007.

"The panel first gained accreditation in December 2005 and to maintain it is a major achievement given that there are only 35 accredited panels in the world says Margaret Edwards the leader of the Panel.

"Gaining accreditation is a major milestone in the development of the New Zealand olive oil industry says Alastair Bridge, Executive Officer of Olives New Zealand. "The sensory panel is essential for the Olives New Zealand Certification programme. Under this programme New Zealand olive oils that meet exacting standards are guaranteed as extra virgin and can be recognised in the market place by the Olives New Zealand OliveMark (a red seal) on their bottles."

The Olives New Zealand Certification programme is based on the standards set by the International Olive Council. This body, that has its headquarters in Madrid, sets the standards for olive oil world wide.

For olive oil to be recognised as extra virgin (the premier classification) it has to have satisfactory chemical analysis results. The oil is then assessed by a sensory tasting panel that is accredited by the International Olive Council. To be certified as extra virgin, the panel must find oils free from any defects (flavour taints that can arise during harvesting, processing and storage). Oils must also have the positive attribute of fruitiness.

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To become accredited, a panel must first be recognised as being the official industry panel and be trained and supervised by a panel leader who holds an International Olive Council Panel Supervisors' Training Course Certificate.

For initial accreditation, the panel must sit and pass two examinations sent from the International Olive Council. Performance is reviewed each year by the Council and to maintain accreditation the panel must pass the two examinations the Council sets each year. In 2006 only 35 of the 43 panels around the world that sat the exams made the grade.

"The panel is based in Auckland at the Consumer and Sensory Science Facility at HortResearch, one of the most advanced of its kind in Australasia. Currently our panel consists of 12 volunteers who give up their time because they are interested in and enjoy tasting olive oil. They all pass a rigorous screening test before being accepted onto the panel. Only 2 members are olive oil producers Margaret Edwards says.

"The panel meets regularly for training and to certify New Zealand olive oils from April until early December each year. It's a difficult and intense process but well worth the effort especially as New Zealand extra virgin olive oils are now being recognised as some of the best in the world".

And even more important, consumers can have confidence that they are buying a great-tasting product that is also good for them when they purchase bottles of certified New Zealand extra virgin olive oil bottles that carry the distinctive red OliveMark.


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