UC Cooperative Extension sensory analysis panel enhances the quality of California olive oil
California’s olive oil industry has evolved from primarily a salvage operation of the table olive industry to a producer of world-class, premium, extra-virgin olive oil. In 1997, UC Cooperative Extension started the first California olive oil taste panel, which was officially recognized by the International Olive Council in 2001. Specific protocols were used to screen potential panelists and train them to identify defects and positive characteristics, identical to 43 other world taste panels. The UCCE panel helped the California Olive Oil Council develop a seal certification program using sensory analysis. Certification provides consumers with assurance that labeled oils are free of defects and warrant the “extra virgin” grade. Sensory evaluation using a unique UCCE profile sheet provides complete and detailed information about specific positive flavor characteristics of olive cultivars grown in California. The UCCE sensory panel has also contributed to a better understanding of the qualities of California olive oil and advancement of the industry by participating in research on pest management, cultural practices and processing.