COOC Annual Meeting 2007 | The Olive Oil Source

COOC Annual Meeting 2007

Source: The Olive Oil Source
March 31, 2007

Monterrey was the venue again for the California Olive Oil Council’s annual membership meeting celebrating the organization’s 15th year.

Executive Director Patty Darragh introduced Alan Greene, the newboard president who gave a brief state of the COOC speech. He also offered to respond after the meeting to provocative questions posed in an anonymous letter sent to California olive oil producers the week before.

This was followed by an unusual type of olive oil tasting. Using two very different olive oils, taste panel members Dean Wilkinson and Nancy Ash introduced the audience to the differences between the certification and Solinas forms for olive oil tasting.

The COOC certification form basically deals only with the absence of defects. If the oil has passed the chemical tests for acidity and has no defects when tasted, it qualifies for the COOC seal and is certified extra virgin. The tasting panel also rates the oil for bitterness, fruitiness and pungency but this is only informational for the grower, not a part of the certification. (click for form)

The Mario Solinas Sensory assessment sheet is what is used during “beauty contests” for olive oil such as the Los Angeles County Fair where bronze, silver and gold medals are awarded. (Click for form). Scoring has nothing to do with certification. Oils with defects are not scored at all. Nancy and Dean answered many questions from the audience which helped clear up misconceptions about how oils were being certified and how the tasting panel operated.

Author Kimberly Lord-Stewart gave a review of her book “Eating Between the Lines, The Supermarket Shopper’s Guide to the Truth Behind Food Labels”. She directed most of her presentation to the oils chapter of the book but recounted anecdotes of finding labels such as “Organic Seafood” and “hormone free chicken” (prohibited by law since the 1950s) in the local supermarket. She also held a booksale and signing after the event.

Former COOC president and long time board member Albert Katz presented the history of the COOC to date. He shared several interesting facts that he had found while perusing the papers of deceased founder Lila Jaeger.

Representatives of the COOC Marketing panel gave individual presentations. Mary McCarthy, CEO of Tutta California spoke on the educational and marketing DVD which was passed out to members. There is a 10 and 2 minute version. Linda Sikorski, Senior Buyer for The Pasta Shop Market Hall Foods described what works on the retail shelf, what professional buyers and consumers look for in a bottle of olive oil. This included bottle size, color, shape and label (see complete presentation). Joeli Yaguda of Pasolivo Olive Oil commented on the internet as a path to marketing success.

An open forum drew few questions and the meeting was adjourned, to be followed later that night by the dinner, dance and silent auction.