Besides a certain amount of relevant chemical parameters, objective quality of olive oil as well as consumer acceptance are depending mainly on its sensory characteristics. Referring to the EC Regulation 1833/2015, there exist different quality categories for olive oil, namely extra virgin, virgin and lampant. To belong to the category “extra virgin”olive oil (EVOO), an oil has to have a certain fruitiness (median > 0) and no defects (median = 0). This means that all olive oils without defect have the same quality level (extra virgin) no matter what kind of sensory characteristics they show. Within EVOOs, type and width of the parameter values of sensory descriptors show a broad variety. In order to mark differences between sensory characteristics in olive oil, the German and the Swiss Olive Oil Panel (DOP and SOP) further developed the panel test (according to EC regulation 1833/2015) by extending their profile sheet with additional sensory parameters, e.g. the “harmony”-value. The evaluation and interpretation of the “harmony” value of olive oils make it possible to monitor and thereby discriminate the sensory quality within the range of EVOOs on the market. This is important for all stakeholders in the olive oil business, aiming to produce, sell, provide and buy EVOOs at different price (and quality) levels.
Part of the book: Products from Olive Tree
In natural sciences, in general, the most important challenge is to ensure the reliability and validity of collected data and results. The identification of relevant influencing factors and the definition of adequate methodological approaches helps to minimize “noise.” Within the sensory evaluation of extra virgin olive oil, many potentially influencing factors are known. Tasting procedures, therefore, are standardized. However, not all criteria have the same impact on data quality. The study at hand focuses on the possible influence of different test locations, comparing the situation in sensory labs (in situ) with so-called home testing stations (remote) for two well-experienced olive oil panels. Panel performance of both panels meets all regulatory requirements. Looking at the results from the overall statistical data analysis, slight differences between results coming from the two panels can be seen (nevertheless, not exceeding the requirements), but almost no differences are found between results coming out of different test situations. Knowing that the influence of testing through different panels is small but nevertheless bigger than a potential impact of testing in different test locations (sensory lab versus home testing stations), shows us the great potential for future use of remote test designs likewise to lab designs to obtain valid data.
Part of the book: Olive Cultivation