Fair trading laws and food laws in Australia and New Zealand require that labels do not misinform through false, misleading or deceptive representations. In New Zealand, this legislation includes the Food Act 1981 and Fair Trading Act 1986. In New Zealand, the Commerce Commission is responsible for enforcing the Fair Trading Act 1981 but when it comes to olive oil they are missing in action.
Foods must be labelled with an accurate name or description that indicates the true nature of the food, for example ’Strawberry Yoghurt’ should contain strawberries. If it were to contain strawberry flavouring rather than real strawberries, the label should indicate that it is strawberry flavoured yoghurt. And so it is with extra virgin olive oil. Consumers have the right to rely on that description on the label and yet a large percentage of olive oil sold in supermarkets across NZ, labelled as extra virgin, would fail the tests that NZ olive oil producers are required to satisfy.
For an olive oil,to be certified as extra virgin it must meet three standards:
- Free Fatty Acids (FFA) percentage must be less than 0.5%
- Peroxide Value (PV) must be less than 15
- There must be no defects in the oil as certified by accredited tasters
Azzuro's olive oil is tested in Modern Olives laboratory in Melbourne and always satisfies those criteria. We publish the FFA and PV on the label on every bottle.
The Commerce Commission on its website states:
"You have the right to expect a fair deal when making purchasing decisions. This is because the Fair Trading Act makes it illegal for businesses to mislead consumers, give false information, or use unfair trading practices. It applies to anyone in trade - from big players like hotel chains, airlines and department stores, to small or temporary businesses like a souvenir stall or ice cream stand. The Act covers all aspects of the promotion and sale of goods and services. It includes anything said about a product or service, either verbally or in writing. It also includes an impression given by pictures, advertisements, promotional material or a sales pitch, or by something which is not said - that is, by important information being left out."
It's about time that consumers made a stand and forced the commission to act on their responsibilities - watch this space.