Heart-healthy benefits and superior flavors have made olive oil a staple in many U.S. kitchens. But as with any premium product, there is a potential for imposters to mingle with the real thing. However there is an easy way for consumers to identify olive oil that delivers the quality they expect. The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) offers a Certified Quality Seal Program as a way to recognize and promote olive oils that measure up to the industry’s standards of excellence.
It is a condition of NAOOA membership that all oil marketed by members must meet or exceed the International Olive Council (IOC) standard, so membership in the NAOOA is a de facto certification program. The NAOOA Certified Quality Seal Program steps up quality control another notch by submitting the Seal products for testing even more frequently and by including organoleptic analysis. One key difference with the NAOOA Certified Quality Seal and other programs is that brands participating in this program agree to have samples taken directly from the retail marketplace, in the same manner any consumer would purchase them.
To use the seal, a company must be an NAOOA member in good standing and the type of oil bearing the seal must be tested to ensure it meets or exceeds the IOC standard for olive oil. For more than fifty years, the IOC has been recognized as the worldwide quality-standard-setting body for the olive oil industry and its standard is the basis for the newly implemented USDA standard. An annual licensing fee for the Seal program allows the NAOOA to perform rigorous quality testing of each product at least twice per year.
The Certified Quality Seal Program demonstrates the NAOOA’s long-standing commitment to educate consumers about the benefits of olive oil and ensures the integrity of the product. It also lets product marketed by NAOOA members stand out from the competition, and with good reason. These companies have taken the initiative to lead the industry by voluntarily following standards that are far more stringent than what’s required by the U.S. government.
We here at ZOE are proud to be members of the NAOOA and to enthusiastically participate in their olive oil quality seal program.
For more information go to www.aboutoliveoil.org or www.naoaa.org.