A couple of years before, I would always grab Olive Pomace Oil off the shelf of the nearby supermarket. During those days, I had just heard about olive oil and its benefits, but never knew any grading, types or classification.
Pomace Oil is almost half way cheaper than the extra virgin grade. I and my wife would happily pick it up thinking we are still getting the same health benefits while saving double bucks at the same time.
Little we knew that there was a huge quality gap between the two products. And trust me we are not alone to save money that way. Many people (in ignorance) think that pomace oil is as good as any other grade.
People, who are experts in grades and types of oil, do not consider pomace oil even to be called olive oil. Although, technically, it is still oil obtained from olive as it is obtained from the pulp (pomace) after it has been pressed or cold pressed several times to obtain higher grades.
According to the standards set by International Olive Oil Council (IOC), it is not extra virgin olive oil because it fails to meet the criteria for the definition set by the Council. According to IOC, any oil which is obtained using solvents or chemical processes is not graded as Olive Oil.
It is not possible to produce Olive Pomace Oil by cold pressing and without the using solvents or chemical processes and extremely high heat. The high heat and chemical process produces polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzopyrene which are harmful. However, IOC still approves it if it meets certain minimum requirements.
It is worth noting that all Olive Pomace oil may not be contaminated with benzopyrene as long as the heating does not exceed 90 C. However, if the heating is above that level, there is a risk of benzopyrene contamination.
IOC sets strict standards for the amount of benzopyrene in Olive pomace oil and according the directions issued by IOC, it must not be more than 2 micrograms per KG. The non-member states such as India and the United States do not follow any such strict standards and the pomace oil may contain a significant amount of benzopyrene which may harm the human body.
According to a report published in August, 2001 by www.food.gove.uk, the Spanish government informed the UK food agency that high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were found in the Olive Pomace Oil products and that it could cause cancer.
As a result of these findings the Spanish government implemented a temporary ban on the pomace oil and the FSA issued a list of products which were withdrawn from the UK market. The high levels of PAHs were found in products made of pomace oil even from countries like Italy and Greece.
When the FSA consulted the chairman of the UK Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, he confirmed the some PAHs were genotoxic carcinogens and could cause cancer.
However, according to a source, the Spanish government action was challenged in the court who decided against the government and the Spanish authorities had to pay 12 million euro in damages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Pomace Oil Dangerous?
If the PAHs are more than the required level, it may be harmful. Oil which is sold according to the strict regulations of IOC and members countries regulations should not exceed the maximum level of PAHs. If the oil conforms to the standards set by IOC and the country’s food regulations, it should be ok for human consumption.
Should I use extra virgin or pomace?
Extra virgin is the best. It is cold pressed and is rich in micro nutrients. Pomace on the other hand is heated and contains far less micro nutrients than extra virgin or other high grades. Pomace oil is, however, cheaper in price. It does not have the same health benefits as extra virgin oil.
Can I use pomace oil for other purposes?
It can be used for chemical or mechanical uses or cosmetic products as long as it meets the required standard.
It is better than other vegetable oil?
Olive pomace oil have high ratio of MUFAs and is still considered better than other chemically extracted oils like Soya, Canola, Sunflower etc.