Campden BRI is to start testing the authenticity of olive oil imported into the UK.
The firm was chosen via an open tender process by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to carry out the chemical testing at its labs in Gloucestershire, UK.
It will analyse batches of olive oil for a range of lipid components which will determine if the olive oil grade declared on the label is genuine.
EU olive oil regulations come into force in the UK on 1 March 2014 to ensure that olive oil is marketed correctly and to provide a deterrent against fraud.
Dr Julian South, head of chemistry and biochemistry told FoodQualityNews.com that it was a huge problem and directed us to research which created a database of food ingredient fraud issues.
Based on a review of records from academic journals, the top seven adulterated ingredients in the database were olive oil, milk, honey, saffron, orange juice, coffee, and apple juice, found the study published in the Journal Food Science .
Campden BRI will be responsible for testing of Extra Virgin olive oil, Virgin olive oil, olive oil composed of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils, and olive pomace oil imported into the UK.
The firm has worked on olive oil testing for 20 years including testing the quality and storage properties.
Gas chromatography will be used to look at the minor lipid components and the properties of oil including fatty acid methyl and ethyl esters, acidity, waxes and sterols.
Dr South said the main reason for olive oil fraud is the cost and called it a global problem.
“We will be determining if it says it is extra virgin oil whether it actually is, or is it virgin, refined olive oil or a blend,” he said.
“The amount of work is small compared with our other activities but it is high on the agenda. It fits with our work on food fraud and authenticity which is high in our priorities because the impact is significant.”
Olive oil consumed by volume in the UK was 59,000 litres, according to 2013 statistics from the International Olive Council (IOC).
Campden BRI has worked with the RPA on a number of projects over 20 years.
One relates to ensuring claims for payment under government refund schemes are valid.
Campden BRI’s role is to test the goods and ensure they are what is being declared is genuine.