What type or grades of olive oils are there?

There are five different types or grades of olive oil as classified by the International Olive Oil Council. Olive oils are classified by many different variables such as free fatty acid, antioxidant levels, smoke point and the type of refining that is done during production to create the olive oil. The best tasting and less refined type of olive oil is extra virgin olive oil.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the highest grade and best tasting out of all olive oils. To be certified as extra virgin the olive oil must follow a strict production process and the end-product must have a specific taste and chemical composition.
– Must come from the first-pressing of fresh olives, within 24-48 hours of harvest.
– Must be extracted by non-chemical or mechanical means, and without the use of excessive heat. – The free fatty acid or acidity level must be less than 0.8 grams per 100 gram. – It must be defect free – having a perfect taste and aroma.

Virgin Olive Oil

Virgin Olive Oil also comes from the first-press, but its free fatty acid or acidity level is less than 2.0 grams per 100 grams with reduce anti-oxidants therefore it is of a lesser quality than extra virgin olive oil. It has a less intense and milder flavor than extra virgin olive oil.

Refined Olive Oil

These olive oils have been refined by using chemical agents such as acids, alkalis, and heat to extract as much oil as possible from the olive pulp that remains after the first-press. This olive oil is a blend of fattier and more acidic oils with free fatty acid or acidity level less than 0.3 grams per 100 grams. This olive oil lacks taste, aroma and natural antioxidants. Producers usually add unrefined extra virgin or virgin olive oil to this oil to inject some of the flavor, color and aroma into the blend lost in the refining process.

Terms such as “pure” or “light” are made-up terms used by producers and supermarkets. If the label states “pure” or “Light” then the olive oil is a refined one which lacks the purity of an extra virgin olive oil.

Pomace Olive Oil

Pomace olive oil is the lowest grade of olive oil made from the byproducts of extra virgin olive oil production. Olive skins, seeds and pulp are heated, and the remaining oil is extracted using a chemical refining process like pure or light olive oil. Pomace olive oil is bland and extremely low in antioxidants and its free fatty acid or acidity level is less than 1 gram per 100 grams.

Lampante Oil

Is an olive oil with severe product defects. It is created from bad olives or through poor processing practices. Lampante oil is not fit for human consumption until it has been refined.