There are two ways that Olive Oil obtains its grades. One way is a chemical test which evaluates the acidity level. The other way is taste evaluation. In this method a panel of professional and trained tasters conduct the taste. This is more common in the European Community while in USA, the (Californian) Oil has not yet been graded this way.
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
There are strict rules and criteria to qualify for oil labelled as extra virgin. In an excellent work titled “Olive Oil from Tree to Table” Peggy Knickerbocker explains that in the Mediterranean to qualify for the label, it must conform to four criteria namely:
- Must be made from mechanical extract
- Must be cold pressed
- Must have an acidity level of less than 1 percent, the lower the acidity level, the better the oil is.
- Must have a perfect taste.
Once the olives are harvested, sorted and then pressed in mechanical way without any chemical process. This is called cold pressing. The oil may be graded extra virgin if it passes all the other criteria mentioned above. The taste standards have been created by International Olive Oil Council (IOOC).
2. Fine Virgin Olive Oil
This is the second best oil. The acidity level is less than 1.5%. The nutrients level is also less than the extra virgin.
3. Pure Olive Oil
This is a blend of extra virgin and refined virgin oils. The acidity level is 1.5 percent and is less expensive than extra virgin. This is also called olive oil or 100 percent pure olive oil. In order to give it usability, it is, sometimes, mixed with very low grade virgin oil.
4. Semi Fine Olive Oil
It has the acidity level of 3%. Although, it is OK for human consumption but it does not have the same level of nutrients as the grades above.
5. Lite Oil
Lite means light in color and taste. Many people mistakenly believe that light means lite in fat. Some experts assume this to be the marketing technique of the sellers to mislead people into thinking that it is healthier because they are light fat. The reality, however, is that they contain as much fat as other olive oil.
6. Refined Olive Oil
This has a much diminished value and has no or little nourishment. Refined oil go through chemical processes to clean them off all the impurities. During the chemical process, it loses the micro nutrients.
7. Refined Olive Residue Oil
This is also called crude oil. It is devoid of micro nutrients. It is pressed from the remains of the refined olive pressings. It is the cheapest and poorest quality. It is used in the food industry just to add the name olive oil in its list of ingredients. It is an indirect way of cheating and deceiving customers.
8. Pomace Olive Oil
This is the lowest grade for human consumption, and is the least expensive. It is a blend of the virgin oil and pomace Oil. It is extracted from the residual paste left over after the virgin oil has been extracted. It does not have much nutritional value. It is more expensive than other vegetable oils. Some people prefer it over other vegetable oil as it still has some benefits.
9. Virgin Olive Lampante
This is also called lamp oil. This is not fit for human consumption and may be used as fuel for lamps or other chemical or mechanical purposes such as in lubricants etc.
10. Fake Olive Oil
It is cheap and low grade olive oil mixed with industrial chlorophyll to make it green and shining in color. It may even not contain olive oil at all. It is sold in the market as extra virgin which is a clear rip off, cheating and deception. There have been several reports in the media where people and businesses have been raided for adding chlorophyll to the oil and falsely labeling it as extra virgin.