My First Interview with Patricia Darragh of the California Olive Oil Council – Certified 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil Through the “Seal Program”
Patricia Darragh – Executive Director of the California Olive Oil Council (COOC)
We discuss “Certified 100% EVOO” & the significance of the “Seal Program”
The COOC is a trade association with the mission of encouraging the consumption of certified California extra virgin olive oil through education, outreach and communications.
The COOC is committed to upholding the highest standards within the olive oil industry through its Seal Certification Program.
The COOC provides the only seal certification program in California for extra virgin olive oil and has some of the strictest, if not the strictest requirements in the world, ensuring customers that they are receiving 100% authentic, premium quality, California extra virgin olive oil.
Checkout the interview here:
The COOC was founded by a small visionary group in 1992, and Patty came onboard in 1997. In 1998 the seal certification program was established. It’s the only organization in California that certifies extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) as 100% authentic, representing over 90% of production in California. The seal program is tremendously supported by olive growers, and it is a process that must happen with each new harvest. This year over 450 EVOO’s went through the seal process! This is compared to 350 oils in 2015, the industry is growing drastically with more farmers supporting the “seal program” to ensure their customers with “certified” evoo (due to confusion & fraud in the marketplace regarding authentic EVOO), as well as more olive oil companies launching new businesses.
Recently, there have been several reports profiling fraudulent extra virgin olive oil in the marketplace, as well as labeled product that did not meet EVOO standards. In 2010 UC Davis published a report that found nearly 70% of the EVOO’s on the shelf, labeled as EVOO, did not meet extra virgin olive oil standards. The two main reasons for this were rancidity (old, miss-handled olive oil) and adulteration (other oils are blended into EVOO), all of which consumers would not know. Then just a few months ago, in 2016, the television show 60 MINUTES profiled these issues surrounding imported olive oils and fraudulent extra virgin olive oil, most of which come out of Spain & Italy. You can view this video HERE. The Bloomberg Report also featured California Extra Virgin Olive Oil in 2016, outlining these fraudulent issues as well. You can view that report HERE. They had an awesome heading for their report: “Is American Olive Oil About to Have Its Moment? In 1976 the wine industry changed forever when a vintage from California was judged superior to its European counterparts. The same thing might be about to happen to olive oil.”
The health benefits of 100% authentic EVOO make it a true “power food.” UC Davis produced a report outlining the health benefits of EVOO, pertaining to its polyphenols & antioxidants, which come from premium-quality EVOO’s. You can read that report HERE. You can read more about the health benefits of EVOO in a past post I wrote HERE, particularly with the Mediterranean Diet.
The seal is your way to be assured that you are buying 100% fresh, authentic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil from California – the highest grade of olive oil, and the healthiest.
Look for the seal on every bottle of California EVOO:
When you purchase olive oil with the COOC Seal of Certification, you know you are buying the best extra virgin olive oil made in California.
COOC Quick Facts
- The COOC has over 400 members including growers and producers, service providers, retailers and other supporters of the California olive oil industry.
- Growers and producers make up the greatest number of members.
- The COOC represents over 90% of all olive oil production in California.
- The COOC Taste Panel, founded in 1998, has certified over 400 oils from the 2015-16 harvest.
- As of January 2016, there are over 38,000 acres planted in California for the production of extra virgin olive oil.
- It is estimated that 3,500 new acres will be planted each year in California through 2020.
- There are over 400 growers/producers of olive oil in California
- Over 75 olive varieties are grown in California for olive oil production, resulting in proprietary blends unique to California.
- An unprecedented production of 4 million gallons of extra virgin olive oil was produced during the 2015-16 harvest. The 2014-15 harvest produced 2.4 million gallons.
- There are 40 mills in California with more under construction and/or expansion.
- The COOC Taste Panel, founded in 1998, was the first North American sensory panel established for olive oil.
*I want to thank Patty and Lisa for taking the time to interview with me, and to explain the seal certification program in such great detail – thank you so much.
Contact the COOC:
California Olive Oil Council
801 Camelia St., Suite D
Berkeley, CA 94710