Home' Grower : June 2012 Contents The South Australian Grower -- June 2012
By COLIN BETTLES
John Williams is
protection for the local olive oil
industry through transparent
labelling to stop misleading and
deceptive advertising on imported
extra virgin olive oil products.
He raised the issue as a matter
of public interest during a speech
in the Federal Senate recently,
urging regulatory authorities to
act fast and avoid the Australian
industry's potential decimation
from "wrongdoing, misleading
advertising and misleading
Sen Williams also accused retail
supermarket chains of "continuing
to knowingly sell" extra-virgin
olive oil products that are
"misleading, deceptive and not
allowed under Australian
"Our olive growers in Australia
are not being treated fairly," he
"The consumers, the public of
Australia, are not being treated
"They are being misled and
paying through the nose for what
they believe to be a high-quality
product when in fact it is not.
"We need to act on this.
"Labelling is a big issue and the
olive industry in Australia is the
one copping it big time.
"We need to address this issue
and look after and protect our
own industries and our
The campaign was highlighted
further with South Australian
grower Richard Whiting -- a
former football team-mate of the
New South Wales senator --
protesting in unusual fashion at
Parliament House in Canberra.
Mr Whiting bathed in olive oil
to highlight his claims, and
promote a campaign supported by
the Australian Olive Association.
"The olive industry has been
taking a bath for a long time and
that's the symbolism of taking a
bath on the steps of Parliament
House," Mr Whiting said.
"What we're taking a bath over
is that the product that's out there
on the supermarket shelf is not the
"It's been misleadingly labelled
and adulterated and Australian
farmers can't compete with that.
"We've got Australian
consumers buying extra virgin
olive in all the right quantities --
we're the second biggest users of
the product per head of capita in
the world outside the
"People are buying our product
for all the right reasons: the taste
and the health benefits.
"But they're not getting what
they've paid for because the
retailers are not sticking to the
Australian standard and the
Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission is not
doing anything to enforce it."
Sen Williams said the AOA had
been fighting to achieve tr uth in
labelling for several years without
making a lot of headway in getting
the product's authenticity properly
He said Extra Virgin Olive Oil had
natural properties of antioxidants and
vitamins and was the most sought
after product for its health aspects.
But independent testing proved
that many imported brand olive oils
were degraded to the point where
they should not be considered for
Mr Whiting said in 2010, 91 per
cent of imported olive oil labelled
EVOO had failed the Australian
He had campaigned for more than
10 years to achieve accurate labelling
and protect the industry from
financial ruin because of inferior,
Mr Whiting said that after
approaching the government six years
ago and letting them know the
situation was "terrible and ever yone's
getting ripped off", they were urged
to develop and introduce an
They followed the prescribed
processes to introduce a benchmark
which included undertaking extensive
consultation with olive producers,
retailers, various government
departments, customs, the ACCC,
consumer watchdog Choice and
He said the new Australian
standard was signed off and been in
play about eight months but,
"nothing's happened and nothing's
Mr Whiting said he wanted the
government to step in now and stop
the misleading and deceptive conduct
occurring in the retail market place.
"We're not asking for handouts for
farmers," he said.
"We are saying if people genuinely
got what they paid for, we'd all be
"We're running a highly efficient
industry that's world competitive.
Independent South Australian
Senator Nick Xenophon backed
Senator William's campaign.
Senator Xenophon said it was
appalling that refined oil labelled as
extra virgin olive oil was still being
sold on Australian supermarket
shelves because of our "lax and
misleading labelling laws".
"Customers are being ripped off
because they believe they are buying a
good quality extra virgin olive oil
good for their health when what they
have actually taken home could be
low-grade refined oil," he said.
Tests carried out by the RIRDC in
2010 clearly showed that only 9
percent of imported extra-virgin olive
oil was true to label, he said.
"Isn't that misleading?" he said.
"Isn't it deceptive conduct to
advertise something for the consumer
to buy when they will not get what
they think they are getting?
Richard Whiting, who took a bath in olive oil to emphasise the anomalies
impacting on the Australian olive oil industry, says while the new Australian
standard was signed off "nothing's happened and nothing's changed".
Correct labelling and strict adherance to the Australian standard is the only
way to maintain the viability of the Australian olive oil industry.
Retailers not sticking to
Independent testing proves
many imported brands
Coles says it will never
'knowingly' sell falsely
Whiting takes bath in oil to
highlight industry's plight
Isn't it deceptive conduct to advertise something for the
consumer to buy when they will not get what they think
they are getting
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