The classification of olive oil: when we buy…

Eat & Drink

There are virgin olive oils in retail trade, i.e. for you consumers who are reading.

The law says that this should be oil obtained from olives only through mechanical processes or other physical processes that do not cause any alteration of the oil and that have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decanting, centrifuging and filtration. Therefore, only mechanical processes.

In fact, oils derived from solvents or chemical processing are excluded.

Therefore, there is extra virgin olive oil on the market. It is recognised because its free acidity in oleic acid is up to 0.8 grams for 100 grams, with those characteristics of its category.

There is also virgin olive oil with a maximum acidity of 2 grams for 100 grams, in addition to those characteristics of its category.

And there is also olive oil obtained from the cutting of fine olive oil with non-lampante virgin olive oil and olive oil.

Obviously, the extra virgin olive oil appears immediately as the prime quality product.

Note: acidity, like other parameters, is only detected by chemical testing, while taste characteristics (organoleptic) can be identified with tasting. Once learned, we can do it even at home. For the legal point of view, the sensory characteristics of an oil are organised through a test panel consisting of selected and trained tasters.

Regarding the origin of the product, PDOs and PGIs are available. There are more than 40 in Italy. If you buy a PDO extra virgin olive oil you are sure of the origin because this means that the product has been entirely made and bottled in the source area. In Liguria, there is the Riviera Ligure PDO oil, coming from three areas: Riviera dei Fiori (province of Imperia), Riviera del Ponente Savonese (Province of Savona) and Riviera di Levante (Provinces of Genoa and La Spezia). The PDO specification is severe, providing, for example, 0.5% of acidity instead of 0.8. The typical Ligurian oil has a sweet taste, moderately bitter and spicy. The spicy flavour indicates the presence of polyphenols, antioxidant agents, both for the oil and for the human body.

Otherwise, oil on the market can be 100% Italian (but it cannot have further territorial indications) or blends of EU oils or EU and non-EU oils or just non-EU. Since 2016, the indication of the minimum storage and nutrition information is mandatory.

So, read the label and, referring to the Riviera Ligure POD oil, read the yellow bottle neck label, issued by Consorzio di Tutela, the Protection Consortium, and indicating the capacity, a symbol of guarantee of origin and quality.”

[Alessandro Giacobbe]