Wenceslao Moreda. Instituto de la Grasa of Spain.

International standards were born with the aim of facilitating international trade without barriers. The first international standard for olive oils and olive pomace was that of the International Olive Council in 1955, sponsored by the United Nations in order to guarantee the quality and purity of olive oils, with specific methods for this. Later, the CODEX Alimentarius extended the CAC/RS 33-1970 on the quality of vegetable oils to olive oil and olive pomace, publishing CODEX STAN CX33-1981, which was based on the IOC standard.

There are also supranational regulations such as those of the European Community, whose first regulation was published in 1991, CE 2568/91, and national regulations, which in the case of Spain were the Technical Health Regulations for edible vegetable oils of 1983, Royal Decree 308/1983.

These were based on a series of ideas that are summarized in that the legislative criteria used implied the inclusion of physicochemical or sensory characteristic that allowed the differentiation between qualities, the detection of the presence of other oils and fats and the presence of residues and contaminants.

These regulations are based on the establishment of maximum and minimum limits with the following criteria: That they include the majority of oils and fats produced in the area where the standard is in force, that they guarantee the authenticity and healthiness of the product using analytical methods simplest as possible in line with usual procedures and that do not constitute risks to health and the environment. It also includes marketing provisions that provide extensive and truthful information for the consumer.

The different producing and consuming countries have chosen one or another legislation depending on the scope of application, the producing countries mainly used the IOC standard, although the countries belonging to the European Union must comply with the European regulation for their internal trade, in importing countries outside the European Union use both standards. In general terms, the European Regulation is identical to the IOC standard except for one more category of virgin oil in the IOC standard.

In 2022, the reorganization of the new European Regulations divides them into Delegated and Implementing Regulations, not including the analysis methods but making reference to those in the IOC standard.

Initially, there were differences between both standards in the definitions and classification of their categories, in certain quality parameters, in the analysis methods and in labeling.

In general, both standards seek to guarantee the quality of olive oil, they differ in their approach and level of detail.

In any case, both organizations have worked together to harmonize both standards and on the other hand, the IOC and the European Union have also worked together so that both standards are harmonized.

After 8 years of work, the latest revision of CODEX CX33-1981 is 90% similar to the IOC standard, which will also result in the elimination of the current category of the IOC standard, making it identical to the European Regulation.

The different updating and review protocols of the two major international standards have had the consequence that this harmonization has taken approximately 40 years.