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Olive Oil Definitions

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Olive oil is a pure product of the olive fruit subjected to modifications before it arrives at your table. We see it displayed on the supermarket shelves or sold on line under various names and prices that do not mean much to the consumer.

The production method defines the quality, the properties and of course the price of the final product you buy.

The final product most of the time has very little resemblance to the original olive oil you think you are buying.

The following list set by the International Olive Oil Council describes the different types of olive oil and its chatacteristics. Read the list to understand the basics on the quality of olive oil displayed, to be able to distinguish a cheap low quality product from a higher quality, hence more expensive.

The olive oil you consume must be the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), mentioned on the label, with a clear statement that the content is not mixed with "processed" or "refined" oils of any kind.

Virgin olive oils are the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil, and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration.

Olive Oil Grades

The following categories are Virgin olive oils fit for consumption:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams, and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. This is the highest quality of edible olive oil

Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard.

Ordinary virgin olive oil

Virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and the other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. This designation may only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale. If not permitted, the designation of this product has to comply with the legal provisions of the country concerned.

Virgin olive oil

Virgin olive oil not fit for consumption as it is, designated lampante virgin olive oil, is virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and/or the organoleptic characteristics and other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. It is intended for refining or for technical use.

Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. This designation may only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale.

Olive oil

Olive oil is the oil consisting of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard.The country of retail sale may require a more specific designation.

Olive pomace oil

Olive pomace oil is the oil obtained by treating olive pomace with solvents or other physical treatments, to the exclusion of oils obtained by re esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds. It is marketed in accordance with the following designations and definitions:

Crude olive pomace oil

Crude olive pomace oil is an olive oil whose characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. It is intended for refining before human consumption, or it is intended for technical use.

Refined olive pomace oil

Refined olive pomace oil is the oil obtained from crude olive pomace oil by refining methods which do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. This product may only be sold direct to the consumer if permitted in the country of retail sale.

Olive pomace oil

Olive pomace oil is the oil comprising the blend of refined olive pomace oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity of not more than 1 gram per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in the IOC standard. The country of retail sale may require a more specific designation.

 

 

Quality Characteristics

 

Free Fatty Acidity

Free acidity is measured as free fatty acids expressed as percent of oleic acid (e.g 0.3%), the predominant fatty acid in olive oil.

High values are an indicator of poor fruit quality or improper handling prior to milling, as free acidity arises from the hydrolytic breakdown of the oil.

 

UV Absorption

The UV Absorption in olive oil detects early or late stages of oxidation.

The two characteristic indicators are K232 and K270.

In a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil the K232 must be below 2.5 and the K270 below 0.22

The lowest values indicate higher quality.

 

Peroxide Values

The Peroxide Value (PV) measures the amount of primary oxidation in the oil. High values are caused by improper handling of olive fruit or olive paste.

Peroxides are expressed as milliequivalent of free oxygen per kilogram of oil (meq O2/kg).

In this case, once more, the lower value indicates an Olive oil of higher quality that may stay well for longer time.