Is my EVOO EVOO? Counterfeit oil prevention.
February 10, 2021 11:39 AM   Subscribe

i went to the market yesterday to buy a new bottle of evoo. of the 40+ varieties/brands, not one had the COOC cert symbol that i always look for. many recently used to. what gives?

some had the new NAOOA stamp. is that legit? what's better, cooc or naooa?
posted by j_curiouser to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This Olive Oil fansite sent questionnaires to 4 olive oil industry groups, OOCC, NAOOA, COOC, and AOOPA, and printed their responses verbatim, it says.

COOC and OOCC are California focused, so you're less likely to find brands from outside of California with the COOC certification.

Is NAOOA legit? Well, it's been around longer that COOC, it covers North America primarily rather than a single state. It does testing and spot-checking from store shelves. It lobbies for olive-oil causes, such as getting the FDA to acknowledge its health benefits.

But these are all official public statements from the PR units of organizations designed to promote good olive oil, and likely deny any need to police its membership. I'd say NAOOC is as legit as COOC, but read their responses and judge for yourself.
posted by Sunburnt at 12:22 PM on February 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: COOC only applies to Californian products, and the two organizations (COOC/NAOOA) frequently fight with each other on trade grounds, using their tests as weapons (eg: NAOOA accusing the COOC of not testing enough market samples, etc.), but for the most part both should be reasonable testing programs that try to reduce oil adulteration.

NAOOA is from like 1989 or thereabouts, so they're not really "new" as an organization. It's sort of like siblings fighting with each other -- they both want you to use more olive oil, but they disagree over where that olive oil should come from.
posted by aramaic at 12:25 PM on February 10, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In my experience, olive oil from California is sometimes hard to come by. If the olives aren't from California it won't be COOC. For example my go-to brand has two basic varieties, their regular California EVOO and their "destination" series with olives from Argentina or Spain.
posted by muddgirl at 12:37 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: California oil production was down this year:
As anticipated, per acre fruit yields were significantly down across most parts of the state. On the central coast and in the Fresno area, fruit yields were about a third of what they were last year and in the Sacramento Valley from Modesto north to Woodland producers saw an average of 2-3 tons per acre.

“Extraction was good but the quantity of olives was markedly reduced,” says Mark Sievers of Il Fiorello Olive Oil Company in Fairfield. “All our growers had less than half of last year. Some growers decided not to harvest at all due to minimal crop.” Sievers reported that he had less than 1 ton per acre on his own ranches.

John Mesrobian of The Mill at Kings River, located near Fresno, also decided against harvesting some ranches due to low yields. “Primarily we saw low set with Arbequina. We didn’t even harvest some blocks,” he said.

Producers on the central coast, Stockton/Modesto and Fresno areas all saw a lower-thanexpected volume from their growers.
posted by jamjam at 1:48 PM on February 10, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Counterfeiting of olive oil is AFAIK more of a problem with Euro oil than Californian. So I buy Californian. This can be tricky because some Californian-sounding brands sell imported oil, so read the bottle carefully. E.g. Napa Valley Naturals has a standard EVOO that is actually Mediterranean, and then another, more expensive EVOO that is from the Sacramento Valley - I make sure to buy the latter.
posted by splitpeasoup at 7:21 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks all! I'll look for a CA source. imho, skimping on the evoo quality is a high impact kitchen mistake. cheers! j_
posted by j_curiouser at 8:29 AM on February 11, 2021

I don't know about certification, but there's a grocery store brand California Olive Ranch that I trust to be real EVOO. At least, it sure tastes right and it's a lot cheaper than super premium oils. They used to be all California oil but a couple years ago their primary product got changed to a poorly-disclosed "Global Blend" which includes oil from Argentina, Chile and Portugal. It still tastes great. And if you want true Californian they sell that at a premium.

On certification, their website says
All our olive oils are certified extra virgin by Applied Sensory, the highest standards of quality in the industry. Our 100% California Reserve Collection and 100% California Everyday extra virgin olive oils also carry the Olive Oil Commission of California seal. We test every batch of our oil as we make it to ensure that it adheres to our high standards.
posted by Nelson at 11:36 AM on February 11, 2021 [3 favorites]

Applied Sensory, by the way, is a lab that analyses food with some specialization in wine and olive oil, founded by a scientist with degrees from two different UC schools, and is located in Fairfield CA, which is less than 10 miles from Napa as a crow flies. If it were any more California, its halls would be lined with almonds and avocados.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:07 AM on February 13, 2021

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