UCCE Research Taste Panel
The improvement of California’s olive oil owes much to the efforts of the scientifically selected and trained sensory evaluation panel at the University of California Cooperative Extension. Only the most rudimentary quality testing on olive oil can be done by laboratory chemical analysis. A group of human beings following strict tasting protocols is the only tool known that can accurately detect, identify and quantify all of the many positive and negative attributes of olive oil.
The panel devotes itself entirely to research and education, evaluating oils using the UC 15-Point Profile sheet to record extremely valuable data on the more subtle and complex aspects of olive oil; as a result it has become a rarity to find defects in a California olive oil.
Ongoing research into the sensory effects of olive fruit fly damage and tree irrigation level on olive oil helps producers adjust their pest control measures and irrigation program to minimize environmental and financial impact while preserving oil quality. A research project comparing oil from the same olives made with different processing systems is providing valuable information for producers seeking the best methods for their particular fruit. California-specific data produced by a taste panel using internationally recognized scientific standards and methods are essential to the growth of a world-class olive oil industry.