Most olive oil fails standards. Get your oil tested by UC Davis. Our research has found that a high percentage of olive oil sold to
consumers is mislabeled as extra virgin, and in some cases is not even
olive oil. The UC Davis Olive Center Sensory and Chemistry Laboratory is your one-stop shop in North America, offering sensory analysis, standard IOC chemical tests, and the German DAGs and PPP tests.
The UC Davis Olive Center's Sensory and Chemistry Laboratory provides services for olive oil in partnership with the UC Davis Analytical Laboratory.
The Sensory Panel evaluates the sensory quality of olive oil to determine whether the oil meets extra virgin standards. The sensory panel supervisor is Sue Langstaff, a trained sensory scientist and the owner of Applied Sensory, LLC. Sue is the inventor of The Defects Wheel® for wine, beer and olive oil. The sensory panel, which is comprised of at least eight trained tasters, provides the standard analysis required by the International Olive Council as well as a full descriptive analysis of each oil sample:
- Positive attributes of fruitiness, bitterness and pungency, along with fruity descriptors such as grassy, tropical, herbaceous and floral.
- Defective attributes, if any, such as rancid, fusty/muddy sediment, musty and winey/vinegary.
- Integrative measurements such as freshness, balance and complexity.
The Chemistry Laboratory provides analysis of various olive oil compounds, and is the only laboratory in the United States providing the DAGs and PPP tests. The laboratory is supervised by Dr. Selina Wang, Research Director of the UC Davis Olive Center and Dr. Dirk Holstege, Director of the UC Davis Analytical Laboratory. The Chemistry Laboratory offers the following tests:
- Diacylglycerols (DAGs) and Pyropheophytins (PPP): To determine freshness and quality of the oil.
- Ultraviolet Absorbance (UV), Peroxide Value (PV) and Free Fatty Acidity (FFA): To determine oxidation and quality of the oil.
- Sterols, Waxes, Stigmastadiene and Triacylglycerols: To determine whether the olive oil is adulterated with other types of oil.
Once your samples have been tasted, you will be sent a bill by the UC Davis Analytical Lab.
Be sure to pack your samples with ample cushioning and packaging materials. We recommend using a combination of bubble wrap and packing peanuts. We also recommend clearly marking the parcel as “fragile.”
Hoagland Annex on the UC Davis Campus
Samples can be sent throughout the year. The panel generally tastes less frequently in July and August and during the winter holidays.
Results are reported based on workload. Once your samples arrive at the university, the Olive Center will send notification that your samples were received, and your sample will be scheduled for tasting based on the order received. Results are mailed within one week after the samples are evaluated by the panel.
Scores are calculated using the median score of all panelists for a given attribute (both positive and negative).
What does it mean if my oil does not pass as extra virgin?
It means that the panel’s median score was greater than zero for at least one defect and/or the oil received a median fruitiness score of zero.
Results will be emailed one week after the oil/oils are tasted by the panel
The fee applies for one tasting by the panel. If you wish the sample to be re-evaluated, you will need to resubmit the sample with the required fee.
Potentially, although brand/client names will not be identified in research publications.
Use of the UC Davis name, or the Regents of the University of California name, is limited solely to the following statement, and only in the event that the panel determines the oil to meet the grade of “extra virgin”: “A sample of this olive oil was certified as extra virgin by the UC Davis Olive Oil Taste Panel.” Any violation of this provision is subject to legal action by the university.
No, legal restrictions prohibit use of the UC seal and or the UC Davis logo for private commercial purposes.
Once your oil arrives at UC Davis, it is stored in a temperature-controlled room until the time when it is tasted.
Many of our members have been tasting olive oil on sensory panels for more than ten years. Other members have trained with us as apprentices for over two years before becoming full members. All panelists undergo regular training throughout the year.
The UC Davis Olive Oil Taste Panel sends out a call for new panelists every two to three years. Sign up for the Olive Center's e-newsletter to receive a notice.