USDA Olive Oil Standard Goes Into Effect October 25th

Posted on June 5, 2010

The USDA published a standard for olive oil in the Federal Register on April 28, 2010. The standard will take effect on October 25, 2010. The standard is the result of a petition filed by the California Olive Oil Council in August 2005. Patricia Darragh, executive director of the California Olive Oil Council told the L.A. Times that the new standard "will put an end to marketing terms that are confusing to the consumer, such as light, extra light - language that really doesn't meant too much."

The USDA describes Virgin olive oils as "the oils obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, including 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." It says that "no additives of any kind are permitted."

The USDA's new regulations include five grades of olive oil. The hierarchy for grades of virgin olive oil is extra-olive oil, virgin olive oil, and virgin olive oil not fit for human consumption (lampante virgin olive oil). Lampante virgin olive oil is the lowest quality among the virgin olive oils and must be refined for consumption.

U.S. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is described as having "excellent flavor and odor (median of defects equal to zero and median fruitiness greater than zero)." It also has a free fatty acid content (expressed as oleic acid) of not greater than 0.8 grams per 100.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best kind to buy and use for cooking. It is the olive oil you want to look for at the store. The COOC provides a seal-certification to indicate True Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Photo: California Olive Oil Council