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About Olive Oil: Part 4 - Classification of olive oils

Extra virgin olive oil as main component of healthy Mediterranean diet is increasingly present in our households, as there is rising trend of healthy life, where healthy food plays very important part. We consumers must be aware of classification of olive oil made by Commission Regulation (EEC) No 2568/91 of 11 July 1991, but at the end every one of us should choose if that's in our interest. So let's take a look at the classification of the olive oils...

 Giuliana Olive Oil - Olive oil classification

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

Extra virgin olive oil is a 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.

Virgin olive oil is a 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 this standard.

Lampante virgin olive oil is virgin olive oil which has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of more than 2 grams per 100 grams and/or the organoleptic characteristics and other characteristics of which correspond to those fixed for this category. Lampante virgin olive oil is NOT fit for consumption as it is. 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 0.3 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category.

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.

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. Olive-pomace oils shall not be labeled as “olive 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.

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 this standard. In no case shall this blend be called olive oil

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

As we can see there are quite a few different types of olive oils with very different health benefits. If you ask me – we should consume only Extra Virgin Olive Oil. But today we live in a consumer world where most of consumers consider only the price. Although we can find many things written in a product declarations of various products, sometimes we get lost in all that gibberish- I know I do. Some producers mislead us about their food products and we can surely say that olive oil producers are not different. In the past few years competent inspection services throughout the EU made some very interesting findings

If I get back to the olive oil classification, I would like to share with you a nice example where consumer should know a little bit about classification. A while ago I was in a grocery store, looking around, picking some food, when I suddenly stopped in front of the shelf with many different olive oil brands. In all of those shiny and fancy bottle labels I’ve noticed a label with picture of nice looking, fresh olives on the beautiful olive branch. All nice and well until I’ve noticed small sign beneath the picture – OLIVE OIL – and much smaller sign over it – REFINED. I checked the price and it was low price, but not much lower from the bottle of extra virgin olive oil right next to it. There is something fishy here, it just doesn’t add up …


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