IOC confirms (again) that NZ olive oil testing was not official

16 August 2012

TVNZ’s Fair Go programme aired (on May 16) a story on olive oil, where it tested a range of locally sourced samples. Despite being informed by FGC before the programme went to air that the chemical-testing laboratory and the sensory panel were not accredited or recognised by the International Olive Council (IOC), Fair Go broadcast the statement that,  “The sensory panel here in New Zealand is IOC accredited”. The IOC website at the time showed they were not credited.

However, for the purposes of absolute clarity, the IOC has now confirmed in writing to FGC that neither the Australian laboratory nor the local sensory panel at Massey University were recognised by the IOC, as stated by Fair Go

The IOC told FGC that “The Modern Olives and Massey University panels do not hold IOC recognition” and that the IOC was informed by New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the official Olives New Zealand sensory panel registered at HortResearch had been dissolved (in fact, HortResearch  has not existed since December 2008 when it was merged to form another CRI, Plant and Food Research, in December 2008). 

So, why does it matter if testing panels are or are not recognised by the IOC?

In the first instance, references to being IOC-accredited gave Fair Go‘s findings, process, and the panel itself credibility and the perception of independent status that was not accurate or deserved. 

Secondly, it means that, in terms of testing the range of oils against the international standard for olive oil, the results have no official status because there can be no assurance that the oils were tested fairly and methodically in a way recognised by the IOC to world standards. 

Though Fair Go stated on air that the tests were done in adherence to the IOC standards, this was not the case. - Katherine Rich.