Is all that glitters gold?

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What could be wrong with all these competitions that judge the quality of extra virgin olive oil, often called as ldquoliquid goldrdquo?

Slippery groundnbsp

a title inspired by the article Slippery Business bynbspTom Mueller

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Since ancient years, olive oil has always been under the threat of all kind of frauds and misleading info, because of its high nutritional, cultural, social and economic value This phenomenon does not just occur when blending olive oil with vegetable oils, but it also occurs when blends of various qualities of olive oil are created And it is depicted in the wide range of prices that are set for the buyers and the consumers

Measuring quality

Olive oil is almost the sole vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is, as a natural juice letrsquos say, after having been naturally processed of course Measuring quality is not an easy matter

There are a number of physico-chemical criteria, with organoleptic evaluations panel tests leading the way, which is in no way an expression of personal taste ndash by just stating quotI likequot – quot I do not likequot ndash but it is an objective process, subject to specific and strict rules

It is no exaggeration if we describe these qualitative criteria as a quotbattlefieldquot where different scientific perspectives and even countries collide Often a slight change of a limit of a parameter can reflect specific economic interests It is no wonder why qualitative criteria are often modified

Competitions and their credibility

In international contests, especially those that incluse awards and are widely promoted, may affect olive oil sales It is something like a self-fulfilling prophecy Therefore, if you want to avoid slipping into oily grounds of dubious and questionable methods, you should better answer the following questions

nbsp-Is the organizing body profit or not for profit?

– As far as the organoleptic evaluation is concerned
nbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspa Are the EU and IOC rules respected?
nbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspb Who are the judges? Are they officially certified?
nbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspc Is there enough time or there are way too many samples to be tested in a really
nbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbspnbsptight session?

– Do the olive oil samples derive from sealed tanks in bulk or are we talking about sealed branded bottles?

– Who chooses the samples in the second case the organizing body from random merchandisers or the participant himself?

– Are we talking about a competition of numerous or limited awards?

Last but not least is it a competition of quality or a marketing business?

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Translated by Artemis Vasileiou
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