There is no olive oil grade higher than extra virgin. Extra virgin specifies that the olives were harvested physically or mechanically, with extra care, without destroying their quality. The extraction was done without the use of heat or chemicals.
The weather, harvesting methods, time frame between picking and extraction process, exposure to light, heat and air, color of containing bottles, are playing significant roles in the olive oil’s quality. From the first processing comes the best extra virgin olive oil, that meets the very strict chemical requirements, such as oxidation levels.
Olive oil deteriorates over time, no different than any other fresh product. If you want to enjoy all the benefits of the olive oil, you must use it within 24 months from the harvesting date. Buy “extra virgin olive oil” and avoid categories such as “pure” or “light”. Make sure the containers are dark glass with date of harvest and designation of origin (PDO) are on it (many times the oil is not from the country is said to be from).
Good olive oil comes in different shades of green and gold. Flavors such as musty, moldy, fusty, grubby, metallic, should be avoided. There is a growing number of foods containing bogus ingredients and are deliberately mislabeled, especially olive oil.
Olive oil fraud is a major global problem. More than half of the violations of applicable standards are related to purity and quality, and over a third of the violations are related to labeling.
An excellent indicator for the olive oil’s quality is the price. Paying a high price, is less likely to buy a bad olive oil, than paying a low price. A high quality olive oil that delivers a great taste and countless health benefits, demands a high price.
A certification of true extra virgin olive oil by the olive oil council, ensures the highest quality and proves that the oil has passed lab and taste tests, to earn that specific certification. Also may be, stiffer laws would minimize or even put an end to many problems in the United States, that has become every unscrupulous exporter’s “dream world”.