Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) Standards
While there are very specific international standards for the classification of olive oils, the USDA standard for olive oil is very broad. California olive oil producers have created their own governing body for the purpose of certifying the very highest quality of olive oils as “Extra Virgin.” The California Olive Oil Council (COOC) has adopted many of the International Olive Council (IOC) standards and refined some of those standards further.
The standard for Extra Virgin olive oil is as follows:
- The olive oil must be obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree.
- The oil must be obtained from the olive fruit solely by mechanical or physical means. The oil cannot be obtained by using solvents. The fruit cannot go through any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration
- The extraction process must be done under thermal conditions that do not lead to alterations in the oil. This is where the term “cold pressed” relates to olive oil. The European Union standard states that the olive paste must be kept under 27°C (80°F)
- The oil must pass a sensory or organoleptic test by a certified panel of tasters. The oil must be free from all defects and posses some desirable attributes of extra virgin olive oils.
- The oil must pass a chemical analysis test at a certified lab for the following:
- Acidity level (oleic free fatty acid) must be 0.5% or less
- Peroxide Value must be 20 meq O2/Kg or less
- UV absorbency:
- K270 must be less than 0.22
- K232 less than 2.50
- Delta K less than 0.01
By definition, infused or flavored olive oils are not extra virgin. Extra virgin oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. There are other grades of olive oil which are widely available.