By Todd R. Hansen McNaughton Media
Legislation that requires olives grown in the state to be used if the label says California olive oil passed the Assembly this week on a 56-8 vote.
“To us, it’s really quite simple,” Peter and Debbie Hunter from Longview Ranch in Winters said in a statement released by the office of Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters, who authored Assembly Bill 535. Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, are listed as co-authors. The vote, which included support by Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Fairfield, was taken Monday. It was introduced in the Senate Tuesday. “If a bottle is labeled as ‘California Oil’ it should be just that: 100% California produced olive oil. If a packer wants to blend non-California oils, then the bottle should not have the California moniker front-and-center. We adhere to strict regulations and labor practices in California, and consumers are beginning to recognize that. We must make sure that the trust in ‘California’ brands is not eroded,” the Hunters stated. California produces about 4% of the world’s olive oil from more than 75 varieties of olives. AB 535 establishes guidelines for when olive oil producers can use the term “California” in their labeling. The bill strengthens existing law by making it illegal to make any false representation that an olive oil is produced entirely from olives grown within California when it is not. Similarly, the bill prohibits any representations indicating that an olive oil was produced from olives grown in a specific region of California unless at least 85% of the olive oil was produced from olives grown in that region. The California Olive Oil Commission has found several brands of California olive oil that are using a California-related name on their labels, but the product is not from olives grown in the state. “California has the best agricultural products, and the highest environmental and labor standards, in the world. Consumers look for California-grown foods because they associate California with quality. Allowing companies to trick consumers into thinking they’re buying a California product because they slap ‘California’ on their package undercuts everything we’re trying to accomplish as a state,” Aguiar-Curry said in the statement. “This bill will ensure that consumers know exactly what they are buying, and it will help to support our local farmers who are producing world-class oils from olives grown here in our state,” she said in the statement. Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes part of Solano County as well as all of Lake and Napa counties, all of Yolo County except West Sacramento, and parts of Colusa and Sonoma counties.