FSSAI has proposed standards for Table Olives and Seedless Tamarind through a notification published on 10 March 2016. The FSSAI has invited comments, views and suggestions from WTO-SPS Committee members within a period of 60 days from the above mentioned date. The proposed changes, if approved will make changes in the Regulation 2.3 relating to “Fruit & Vegetable Products” in the FSS (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations 2011. Once approved, these standards will be called Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2016. While there has been some substitution in the already existing standards for Table Olives, the sub-regulation for Seedless Tamarind in this category is a totally new proposal as earlier there were no standards for Seedless Tamarind.
In the sub-regulation dealing with “Table Olives” the definition has been changed and given more clarity and the new definition will substitute the previous definition. Table Olives means; the product prepared from sound fruits of varieties of the cultivated olive tree (Oleaeuropaea) having reached appropriate degree of development for processing whose shape, flesh-to-stone ratio, fine flesh, taste, firmness, ease of detachment from the stone make them particularly suitable for processing. Table Olives shall have the characteristic colour, flavour, odour and texture of the fruits.
Table Olives may be
- treated so as to remove the bitterness and preserved by natural fermentation, or by heat treatment, with or without the addition of permitted preservatives or by other means
- packed with or without brine
For better understanding of Table Olives, FSSAI has also proposed to define olives by when they are harvested. So fruit that is harvested during the ripening period, but prior to the colour development and when they have reached normal size are called Green Olives. Olives turning colour means that they have been harvested before the stage of complete ripeness and just when there is a colour change while Black olives are harvested when fully ripe or slightly before full ripeness is reached.
Types of processed olives are defined according to the type of processing they undergo.
- Natural olives means any of the varieties of olives green olives, black olives or olives turning colour that have been placed directly in brine. Here they will undergo complete or partial fermentation and will be preserved or not by adding permitted acidifying agents. These olives so treated will be termed natural (example natural green olives, natural black olives or natural olives turning colour.)
- All the three varieties of olives that have undergone alkaline treatment will be termed asTreated Olives and could be termed as either treated green olives in brine, treated black olives, or green ripe olives etc.
- Dehydrated or shrivelled olives. The three varieties of olives that have undergone mild alkaline treatment or not, preserved in brine or partially dehydrated in dry salt or by heating or any other technological process. They will be called dehydrated and/ or shrivelled green olives etc.
- Olives darkened by oxidation. This is applicable to only green olives or olives turning colour and preserved in brine, fermented or not, but darkened by oxidation with or without alkaline medium and with a uniform brown or black colour.
- Olives may also be prepared by other means that are different from these or additional to these mentioned. The method used to prepare them will define the names.
Styles of Olives
Whole olives maintain their natural shape and can be with their stem intact or without and from which the stone or pit has not been removed
Cracked olives undergo a process where their flesh is opened without breaking and the pit remains intact
Split olives are split lengthwise by cutting the skin and part of the flesh
Stoned or pitted olives have their stones removed but maintain their natural shape
Halved olives are stoned or stuffed olives that are sliced into approximately equal parts along the perpendicular length of the fruit.
Quartered olives are stoned and split into four approximately equal parts, perpendicularly to the major axis of the fruit.
Divided olives are pitted and cut lengthwise into more than four equal parts
Sliced olives are pitted or stuffed and sliced into parts of equal thickness.
Chopped or minced olives are small pieces of pitted olives of no definite shape and almost without identifiable stems of slices
Broken olives are those olives which are broken while being stoned or stuffed and may contain pieces of stuffing material.
Stuffed olives are stoned and stuffed with one of more suitable products like pimento, onion, almond, celery, anchovy, olive, orange or lemon peel, hazelnut, capers etc. or edible pastes.
Salad olives are whole broken, broken and stoned with or without capers, plus stuffing material where olives are more numerous than the entire product marketed.
Olives with capers are whole or stoned olives, usually small with capers and with or without stuffing but the olives are more numerous that the entire product.
Ingredients and composition
In addition to basic ingredients mentioned above, olives can contain ingredients like potable water, edible salts, vinegar, olive oil as defined in regulations, honey and nutritive sugars as defined in regulations, any single of combination of edible material used as an accompaniment or stuffing and spices and aromatic herbs.
Packing brines means the solution of salts dissolved in potable water, with or without the addition of all or some of the ingredients as mentioned earlier. Brine must be clean, free from foreign matter and will comply with hygiene standards as mentioned in Schedule 4 of the Food and Safety Standards (Licensing and Registration if Food Businesses) , Regulations 2011. Fermented olives held in a packing medium could contain micro-organisms that are used for fermentation like lactic acid bacteria and yeast. However, the product must conform to microbiological standards as specified in the Food and Safety Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011.
Drained weight of whole olives must not be less than 50 percent of the net weight of the contents, while the weight of stoned or pitted and stuffed olives must not be less than 40 percent of the net weight. When packed the containers must be filled up to 90 percent of the water capacity in rigid containers.
Proposed standards for Seedless Tamarind
Seedless Tamarind has been defined as Tamarind (without seed) and shall be obtained fromTamarindus indica L. after removing the outer covering and seeds from the mature ripe fruit. The product shall be clean and shall not contain deleterious substances, obnoxious odour, any external moisture and inorganic extraneous matter. It shall be free of insect infestation, live or dead insects, mould growth, rodent hair or excreta, added colouring matter and impurities of animal origin. Standards have been mentioned for moisture content, organic extraneous matter, ash, crude fibre and tamarind seeds.
Other regulatory requirements
- Food additives used in both Table Olives and Seedless Tamarind products must be as permitted by regulations.
- Contaminants, toxins and residues will comply with Food Safety Standards (Contaminants, Toxins and Residues) Regulations 2011.
- Hygiene standards for Table Olives and Seedless Tamarind will comply with Schedule 4 of the Food and Safety Standards (Licensing and Registration if Food Businesses) , Regulations 2011
- Labelling will comply with Food and Safety Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulations 2011 for both products. However, for stuffed olives additional labelling has been proposed where single or combination ingredients will have to be mentioned like
Olives stuffed with …. (name or names of ingredients)
Olives stuffed with …… Paste ( name or names of ingredients in the paste)
Also the packing medium (brine) will be declared on the label along with the strength of the brine.