Olive Oil Quality Standards
“All premium quality olive oils are Extra Virgin but not all Extra Virgin are premium quality olive oils.”
The term “Extra Virgin” describes a broad category of olive oils and should be viewed as an indicator that an olive oil meets a minimum standard-rather than as an indication of superior quality. While it is true that all high-quality olive oil is Extra Virgin, it is also true that most olive oils labeled “Extra Virgin” are not high quality. This is because the chemical and sensory parameters established for the grade are so broad that Extra Virgin includes very average and mediocre olive oils, as well as the better quality olive oils.
There are additional factor leading to this confusion and acceptance of inferior extra virgin olive oils. Relying on consumers’ common misconception that “Extra Virgin” is indicative to high quality, large producers of commercial grade extra virgin olive oils flood the market with a substandard product. They combine oils of various origins and varietals to create a generic flavor profile that accommodates a mass market while achieving profitable price points. This risky process of blending usually results in oils that are intended to cover up undesirable flavors or to increase the oils shelf life.
“There is a direct correlation between freshness and nutrition, shelf life, and taste.”
Olive oil is perishable and is better in every sense when it is fresh. Critical beneficial attributes (like polyphenol levels, antioxidants, flavor, and aroma) decline over time, while undesirable things– like rancidity and free radicals– develop. There is a direct correlation between freshness and nutrition, shelf life, and taste. Because of the nature of mass production and mass distribution, the Extra Virgin olive oils on standard supermarket shelves are unlikely to be the freshest oils you can find.
Unfortunately, there are no established objective standards for Extra Virgin olive oil in the United States– or the world, for that matter. Trade organizations, like the IOOC, (International Olive Oil Council) NAOOA, (North American Olive Oil Council), and the COOC, (California Olive Oil Council) are controlled by olive oil producers– not by independent agencies that represent the interests and welfare of the general public. Although these organizations do publish and enforce standards, policing the industry is not their primary function.
*Virgin oil is the result of a single, simple pressing or first-pressing; in contrast, cold-pressed is a marketing label rather than a processing technique.
Disclaimer: Throughout this website, statements are made pertaining to the properties, benefits, and/or the functions of Olive Oil and Vinegar products. We are not medical practitioners, and we urge you to seek proper medical consultation by a trained medical professional before modifying your eating habits, or pursuing any of the health-related advice offered within this site.