According to a UC Davis study, imported olive oil sold as Extra Virgin here in California was frequently of sub-par quality. Here’s a telling excerpt from the UC Davis Olive Center study:
“Our laboratory tests found that samples of imported olive oil labeled as “extra virgin” and sold at retail locations in California often did not meet international and US standards. Sensory tests showed that these failed samples had defective ﬂavors such as rancid, fusty, and musty. Negative sensory results were conﬁrmed by chemical data in 86 percent of the cases.”
Download the full report here. This week on Good Food, Evan talks with Dan Flynn from UC Davis. He said that 9 out of 10 California samples were authentically “Extra Virgin.” When buying an olive oil, look for dark bottles, as light can harm the oil. Bottles that include a harvest date is a good indication of a quality oil. He says that you don’t want an oil that is 2 years old — you want to use it in the first year. Look for bottles that have won competitions – in fact, the LA Olive Oil Competition is a big one. Also, the California Olive Oil Council only tests California oils, but they do have a system in which they put a seal on the bottle that is certified extra virgin – it goes through both chemistry and sensory test. This Washington Post article has some great tips for buying olive oil.
On October 25, the USDA announced standards for olive oil, which should standardize labeling. Read more about the USDA effort here.