Sensory volunteers oil panel
Retirees, schoolteachers, housewives and farmers are amongst volunteers on a consumer sensory panel chosen to classify various types of olive oil produced in Australia.
Using highly tuned senses of taste and smell – after 60 hours sensory training – previously inexperienced panel members can assess characteristics such as fruitiness, bitterness and pungency, as well as any negative attributes or defects oils might exhibit.
They help determine which of the four main classes of olive oil a given product falls into – Extra Virgin, Virgin, Ordinary Virgin or Lampante.
Mainly from the Riverina area, one of the State’s key olive producing districts, the panel members sniff and taste oils to global standards.
Production in NSW is expected to increase dramatically over the next several years, as more trees reach fruit-bearing age.
Volume could explode from 320 tonnes in 2004 to nearly 13,000 tonnes in 2012 and with higher production levels would come more opportunities for growers, processors and manufacturers to export high quality oils.
The sensory panel’s work complements extensive chemical testing of Australian olive oils carried out at NSW Department of Primary Industries’ Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute.
They are Australia’s first olive oil sensory panellists to receive accreditation from the National Association of Testing Authorities and together with NSW DPI’s world-recognised chemical laboratories, provide industry with a single site to have their oils quickly evaluated.
The 21 unpaid panellists were chosen from a field of 150 applicants.
This story appears Agriculture Today.