Olive Oil vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

There are different types of olive oil, but not all of them are the same: extra virgin olive oils are the best from a chemical and organoleptic point of view! Here is a short guide to the European classification of olive oils.
Eight are the different existing categories of olive oils and olive-pomace:

  • extra-virgin olive oil,
  • virgin olive oil,
  • virgin lampante olive oil,
  • refined olive oil,
  • olive oil composed of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils,
  • olive pomace oil,
  • crude olive-pomace oil,
  • refined olive pomace oil.

In order to be labelled and sold under a certain category, olive oils must respect chemical and organoleptic parameters dictated by EU regulations. Specific control authorities are in charge of checking the veracity of olive oil categorization.
According to the EU marketing standards:

“The different categories of olive oils are graded according to quality parameters, relating to:

  • physicochemical characteristics, such as the acidity level, peroxide index, fatty acid content and sterols composition;
  • organoleptic (taste, colour, smell, feel) characteristics, such as the fruitiness and the absence of organoleptic defects “.

Only extra-virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, olive oil and olive pomace oil can be sold to the public (the others are mainly used for industrial purposes).
Let’s go into more detail: “Virgin olive oils can be classified as:

  1. Extra virgin olive oil is the category with the highest quality. From an organoleptic point of view, it has no defects and is fruity. Its acidity level must not exceed 0.8%.
  2. Virgin olive oil may have some sensory defects but at a very low level. Its acidity must not exceed 2%.
  3. Lampante olive oil is a lower quality virgin olive oil with an acidity of more than 2%, with no fruity characteristics and substantial sensory defects. It is used for industrial purposes.”

Non-virgin olive oils are:

  1. Refined olive oil is the product obtained after the refining of a defective virgin olive oil (lampante olive oil for instance). It is not intended to be marketed at retail stage. It has a degree of acidity up to 0.3%.
  2. Olive oil composed of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils is an oil resulting from the blending of refined olive oil with extra virgin and/or virgin olive oils. It has a degree of acidity up to 1%.
  3. Crude olive-pomace oil: the olive-pomace is the residual paste obtained after the oil is extracted from the olives. The oil obtained from that paste is called crude olive-pomace oil.
  4. Refined olive-pomace oil: crude olive-pomace oil can be refined and blended with virgin olive oils. The result of that blend is called refined olive-pomace oil. Its degree of acidity can be up to 1%.