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Workshop on Olive Oil in the 6th EFL Congress at Athens

One of the objectives of the Division on Olive Oil (DOO) is to be a forum of discussion for professionals from academia, industry and governmental institutions who are involved in the olive oil sector. In this respect, the DOO together with the GLF (Greek Lipid Forum) organised a Workshop on Olive Oil during the past 6th EFL Congress at Athens.

The thriving market of olive oil is not free of problems which should be dissected to continue being competitive and sustainable in the next decades. Water availability for new orchards, olive oil quality prediction, health benefits for olive oil consumers and food safety, among with other subjects, are burning subjects for either producers or sellers or consumers nowadays. Thus, the lectures – mainly addressed to professionals from the industry, cooperative societies and governmental institutions – were clustered into two sessions. The first was focused on aspects of Olive Oil Production and Analysis while the second analysed themes related to Olive Oil Commerce with Emphasis on Consumers.

Aspects on Olive Oil Production and Analysis were developed by Riccardo Gucci (Innovative Aspects in Olive Growing), Giuseppe Fregapane (Prediction and Assurance of Virgin Olive oil Quality from the Olive Fruit), Maurizio Servili (Innovation in the Extraction Technology for the Improvement of the Virgin Olive Oil Quality), Anna Cane (Contaminants and Regulations: What to do), and Lanfranco Conte (Quality and Purity Control: Pros and Cons of Current Standards and In-House Methods).

Orchard establishment and management are in constant changes since middle nineties. Prof. Gucci, who was the first speaker, explained how planting density, fertilising, weed and soil management, pruning and training, and harvesting and handling of fruit have evolved from traditional practices. Today, all these variables are optimised to obtain homogeneous high quality olive oil with the optimum irrigation – by reducing water volumes at particular phenological olive stages –, the maximum yield – by analysing the optimum canopy architecture in accordance with the number of trees per hectare – and the minimum cost – by selecting cultivars adapted to automated harvesting machinery.

Extra virgin olive oil is the fruit juice resulting of a proper processing of healthy olives in accordance with an approved Quality Assurance. Prof. Fregapane reminded the audience that bad quality olives cannot lead to a good olive oil quality before reeling off virgin olive oil quality and purity criteria. The importance of minor components in virgin olive oil flavour as well as in its nutritional value –those antioxidant and bioactive compounds – was related to agronomical and technological factors to conclude with the need of applying analytical determinations to characterize the raw material prior to be processed; information that can be used to pay farmers on the basis of quality indices. An interesting Decalogue for Quality –summarising all the actions to get extra-virgin olive oil - put an end to the lecture.

Virgin olive oil sensory qualification is a direct consequence of the concentration of particular chemical compounds. The inherent chemical profile of each cultivar can be modified in the course of the olive oil extraction process. Prof. Servili focused his lecture on how the operative conditions of oil mechanical extraction process affect the profiles of phenols and volatiles that are responsible for virgin olive oil flavour. Thus, a selective control on the main enzymes (polyphenoloxidase, peroxidise and lipoxygenase) in the stoning process and the concentration of oxygen during malaxation allow modifying virgin olive oil aroma and taste. All the reported information was supported by a cascade of data that is the fruit of a large and productive research.

Producers and sellers have to face with perennial regulations for contaminants that are updated constantly. Dr. Cane began explaining basic principles of good practices in all the steps of olive oil manufacturing (from the farm to the kitchen) as well as the main rules on which EU legislation is based (i.e. EC 1881/2001). Then the lecture was focused on pesticides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Thus, the regulation 839/2008 is in force inside EU for pesticides since September 2008 while EU regulations 1881/2006 and 333/2007 determine limits of benzopirenes and their analytical methods and EU regulation 1989/2003 does that for halogenated solvents. The maximum amount of metals is regulated by EU 1881/2006 (Pb) and IOC trade standards (Fe & Cu) while there are not harmonised limits for phthalates inside EU. She ended with a guideline of preventive actions.

Olive oil authenticity is a concern for regulator and consumers, and established standards exist both in national and international legislation. Based on this fact, Prof. Conte focused the lecture on current analytical methods and the need of their harmonization. As the fraudulent practices have become more sophisticated, methods must be stricter and their detection limits being the result of a mathematical consensus after analysing the results of collaborative studies. Because of the long time usually needed for adoption of an official method, in-house approaches are proposed meanwhile. Thus, the last part of the lecture was focused on a critical review of the limits of official and in-house methods as well as the state-of-the-art of harmonization between methods proposed in diverse normative sources.

Aspects on Olive Oil Commerce with Emphasis on Consumer were developed by María Isabel Covas (Olive Oil, Nutrition, and Consumers), Dimitros Boskou (Culinary Uses and Biological Importance of Virgin Olive Oil and Other Olive Oil Types. What Should an Informed Consumer Know), María de los Desamparados Salvador (Sensory Quality of Virgin Olive Oils: Methodologies and Applications), George Kostianis (Packaging, Storage and Shelf-life) and Magdalini Rappou (IOC Promotion strategy for Olive Products).

The role that olive oil plays from the nutritional viewpoint, studied in the course of the Eurolive project, was analysed by Dr. Covas. The emphasis was put on the fact that olive oil is functional food as its consumption has not only nutritional value but also it provides benefits for the health. The speaker reeled off the advantages of consuming olive oil whichever its designations though the premium is extra-virgin olive oil. Finally, the speaker put a query on the table: Should olive oil consumers be provided with information on its nutritional and health benefits?

Based on the fact that olive oil, a staple food for Mediterranean inhabitants, is now expanding to other parts of the world, Dr. Boskou partially answered the previous question analysing what an informed consumer should know. Focused on the culinary uses and biological importance of olive oil, he emphasized its unique flavour, its high content of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, and the presence and levels of minor compounds – i.e. phenols, terpenic acids and alcohols- that contribute to the prevention of several diseases, from cardiovascular illnesses to certain cancers. The approach to the health benefits of consuming olive oil from a chemical perspective was complemented with the culinary advantages of cooking with olive oil.

The sensory assessment of virgin olive oil is established by law as a decisive method to determine its designation. Prof. Salvador began explaining the definitions of the terms and actors involved in the sensory evaluation followed with a detailed description of the basic requirements for sensory evaluation, the selection and training of assessors, and the preparation and presentation of the samples to assessors. The procedure for the sensory assessment, the core of the presentation, was analyzed from the definitions of the sensory descriptors to the official profile sheets and data treatment. The last part of the lecture was devoted to analyse the role of volatile compounds in virgin olive oil aroma as well as current and emergent analytical techniques.

Virgin olive oil traceability does not end when it has been bottled but when the consumer ingests it. Mr. Kostianis explained why oil shelf-life and its packaging and storing are determinant in the quality perceived by the consumers. Variables affecting shelf-life from the tree to the olive oil deposits were described prior to analyzing how parameters contributing to quality degradation should be controlled. The speaker concluded by exposing ended with considerations about the different kinds of packaging and a proposal of quality index based on stability parameters.

If the Research were the brain of a hypothetical body, The International Olive Council (IOC) would be the heart that makes it alive. Ms. Rappou started with a review of IOC general objectives in the context of the international technical cooperation to follow with the objectives pursued in the standardisation of international trade in olive products. The campaign for the expansion of international trade and the promotion of olive products was the kernel of the speech. The three pillars of the strategy (traditional producing and consuming countries, growing markets of emergent countries, and scientific and culinary information) dictate the promotion programme in years to come. Thus, the programme for new markets will be developed in Russia, China, India and South Korea while the programme for the traditional markets will be devoted to increase the number of consumers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan and USA. Finally, a bar diagram pointed out how previous promotions increased olive oil consumption exponentially. 

We were nicely surprised by the number of attendees (more than 500 people) who left the workshop with a better understanding of the subjects that we are going to face in future and how to manage them. Thanks to each one of them.

 The workshop’s success was possible thanks to the sponsorship of the firms that thought the dissemination of the research among professionals is a profitable business and we hope they still continue giving support to DOO.  Thanks to Minerva S.A., Alpha Laval, Hellenic Foreign Train Board, Elanco Hellas, Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Messinia, Dimou S.A., Biodynamics S.A., and The International Olive Oil Council.

Ramón Aparicio
Aris Xenakis

eu      Macoils    fp6
Edible Oils: Properties & Comparison

Final Conference of the European Project MAC-Oils: Mapping And Comparing Oils


Food Quality and Safety Priority, Call 4 - C, Specific Support Action
Rome, Italy, 28th-30 th January 2009
Piazzale Aldo Moro, 7, 00185 Roma, Phone: +39 0825 299431 - 331, Fax: +39 0825 781585, E-mail:


Wednesday 28th January

 Authorities Welcome
 Chair: Frank Amoneit, Frankfurt – [A member of European Consumers Association]

 Opening Lecture
Prof. Gabriele Riccardi, Naples, Italy
Nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases: a unifying nutritional strategy
15:30 - 16:15
 Lecture on Oil Technology
Ignace Debruyne, Izegem, Belgium
Oils and Fats in Industry: an Update (tentatively)
16:30 - 17:15
The Consumers’ Point of View
Melvyn F. Askew, Wolverhampton, UK
Title (To be defined)
17:30 – 18:00
Welcome Cocktail / Gala Dinner

Thursday 29th January
 Section A: Physicochemical properties of oils
Chair: Amalia Carelli, Argentina – Stavroula Skoulika, Greece
 Dr. Virginia Carbone, Avellino, Italy
Results of MAC-Oils Project on the physicochemical properties of oils
 Invited speaker: Prof. Raffaele Sacchi, Naples, Italy
Edible Oils: from Composition to Molecular Gastronomy
 09:35 – 10:05
 Section B: Organoleptic properties of oils
Chair: Ramon Aparicio, Spain - Bertrand Matthaus, Germany
 Dr. Mario Pellicano, Avellino, Italy
Results of MAC-Oils Project on the organoleptic properties of oils
 Invited speaker: Dr. Saskia M. van Ruth, The Netherlands
Innovative instrumental characterisation of the volatile flavours of oils: oral processing effects
 11:50 – 11:20
 Coffee Break
 11:30 – 12:00
 Section C: Extraction, conservation packaging of oils
Chair: Zohar Kerem, Israel – Colin Crews, UK
 Dr. Marileusa Chiarello, Brazil and/or Dr. Anne Rossignol-Castera, France
Results of MAC-Oils Project on the industrial features of oils
 12:00 -12:25
 Invited speaker: Prof. Rosangela Marchelli, Parma, Italy
DNA methods to assess oil authenticity
 12:35 – 13:05
 Lunch Break
 Section D: Risks and benefits of oil consumption
Chair: Zoubida Charrouf, Marocco - Mokhtar Zarrouk, Tunisia
 Dr. Rosalba Giacco, Avellino, Italy
Results of MAC-Oils Project on the healthy properties of oils
 15:00 -15:25

 Invited speaker: Prof. Francesco Visioli, Paris, France
Healthy effects of micronutrients present in edible oils
 15:35 – 16:05
 Section E: Oil plants cultivation
Chair: Enzo Perri, Italy – Fathi AbD El Hadi, Israel
Dr. Arnon Dag, Israel
Results of MAC-Oils Project on cultivars and cultivations
 16:15 -16:40
 Invited speakers: Prof. Giovanni Aliotta, Naples, Italy
What benefits does biodiversity provide for our planet? The example of oil producing plants
 16:50 – 17:20
 Closing Remarks
 17:20 – 18:00
Friday 30th January
MAC-Oils Board of Council
(for MAC-Oils Partners only)
 10:00 – 12:00

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