Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Specific challenge: the EU is the world largest producer, consumer and exporter of olive oil. Olive oil is normally sold at a higher price than other vegetable oils and fraudulent activities are tempting. To preserve the image of olive oil, it is necessary to guarantee its quality and authenticity. Olive oil characteristics are regulated at EU level by Regulation (EEC) N° 2568/91 which establishes a list of physical, chemical and organoleptic characteristics as well as methods for their analysis. The list and the methods are updated to include the existing scientific knowledge. Yet despite these regular revisions some issues have not yet found proper solutions. In particular there is a need for the development, validation and pre- as well as co-normative activities followed by the standardization of a method for the assessment of the organoleptic characteristics based on the existing methods, reference materials and already performed research and development work. The specific challenge consists in developing, validating and harmonising analytical methods and quality parameters that specifically address technical authenticity issues. These issues concern in particular 1) the blend of extra-virgin olive oil or virgin olive oil with soft deodorised olive oil, 2) the blend of extra-virgin olive oil or virgin olive oil with other vegetable oil. Beyond the case of olive oil, there is also a strong need for better coordination of research in the area of food authenticity, integrity and traceability across the food supply chain between Member States and Associated Countries.

Scope: Proposals should address one of the following issues (A):

A. [2014] Authentication of olive oil

Proposals should evaluate fraud vulnerability in the olive oil sector and develop, validate and harmonise methods and analytical protocols to detect undesired processing (e.g. deodorisation), adulteration and to verify the quality of olive oil based on novel technological advances. Proposals should explore the establishment of a databank for olive oil and should contribute to standardisation. In line with the objectives of the EU strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation, proposals are encouraged to include participants not only from EU producer and consumer Member States, but also from third country[1]. 

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range of EUR 5 million for (A) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: Proposals should show how some, or all, of the following impacts will be achieved:

  • generate with reliable, validated, cost efficient, harmonised and ready-to-use methods (based e.g. on genomic, metabolomic and other tools) to detect frauds and verify the quality of olive oil, which should be based on novel technologies and potentially feed into the standardisation activities and the regulatory framework related to olive oil quality (at the EU level and potentially at the international level) [A]

  • lead to the creation of a databank of olive oils that is expected to be maintained after project completion [A]

  • contribute to the implementation of the Action Plan for the EU olive oil sector [A]

  • increase confidence of consumers and markets in olive oil quality [A]

·         improve the competitiveness of the olive oil [A]

Type of action: A: Research and innovation actions


[1] This is without prejudice to the general rules on the funding of legal entities from third-countries, as set in part A of the annex to the work programme.

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