The production, manufacturing and distribution of Olive Oil is a diverse industry with a wide range of products from Olive-Pomace Oil to high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, based on the production methods, flavor, and chemistry. Extra Virgin Olive Oil differs from other oils like regular Olive Oil, or Olive-Pomace Oil in that it is naturally extracted without heat or chemicals, and retains antioxidants.
Olive Oil quality determines the grade and state of the oil, and will naturally change over time, so degradation may occur more quickly if the oil is exposed to excessive heat, light or oxygen, which is why olive oil should be stored in a cool, dark place. The flavor is tested by an International Olive Council certified panel, and the quality chemistry must ensure that the acidity level is greater than or equal to 0.8, the standard set by the International Olive Council.
The purity of olive oil relates to whether a product has been mixed with non-olive oil or a lower-grade olive oil, and does not change over time. For purity, there are about 30 reliable measure check for adulteration, with seed oils, nut oils, or refined oils, to make sure that the extra virgin olive oil you are getting is 100% extra virgin.
A common myth that circulates around the authenticity of olive oil is the validity of home tests to check for purity. The only reliable way to check the authenticity of olive oil is in a properly equipped lab. More than 98% of the olive oils found in U.S. supermarkets are authentic, according to the North American Olive Oil Association, who have been testing samples from store shelves for more than 25 years. Another common myth associated with testing the quality of olive oil is the color. The color of any particular olive oil is not an indicator of olive oil quality because color is also based on the olive variety, the climate, and harvesting timing. The quality of olive oil is best tested through taste and smell.
The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA), is an organization that routinely checks to ensure the quality and authenticity of Extra Virgin Olive Oils. The NAOOA adheres to the high-quality standards of the International Olive Council (IOC), the global authority on olive oil purity and quality, based in Spain. The NAOOA Certified Quality Seal Program, a rigorous testing program to test the authenticity of olive oils from around the world ensures that products with their seal have passed at least two authenticity tests every year, confirming that their products meet or exceed the IOC standards. As a member of the NAOOA and a bearer of the quality seal, Colavita is committed to providing authentic, high-quality olive oil to each and everyone of its consumers.
The NAOOA along with the USDA, California Olive Oil Council and the Olive Oil Commission of California all have quality seal programs that test the quality and authenticity of olive oil. However, the chart to the side shows the comparison of all the aspects of olive oil testing that each program does, or does not follow. The NAOOA is the only program that retains their testing samples at retail outlets, so that they are testing the olive oil that consumers are directly buying, and is especially important in testing quality, which can change over time. The NAOOA is also the only organization that performs the full battery of tests required by the IOC for authenticity. Click on the chart to learn more about the different quality assurance programs.
Go to http://www.aboutoliveoil.org/ to learn more about the NAOOA, and their quality seal program.
All pictures provided by: North American Olive Oil Association