While extra virgin olive oil is from the first cold press, olive pomace oil, is a falsified product that is harmful to our health.
Olive pomace oil is a mechanical extraction of oil from the remains of the leftover pulp, skins, pits and leaves and steams. It is impossible to be extracted by pressing.
Although the olive pomace oil is extracted mechanically and comes from olives by using chemical solvents and processed by re-esterification, a high heat process, it should never been called olive oil.
The high heat technique is used to produce vegetable oils. Olive pomace oil contains PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and specifically benzopyrene, that is highly carcinogenic according to research.
The incomplete combustion of the fats contained in olives, results in benzopyrenes. The exposure of fats to high heat-during the extraction process-where there is no smoke, results in the production of benzopyrenes.
The International Olive Oil Council, based in Madrid, Spain, an organization responsible of the olive oil‘s authenticity and quality, underlines that olive oil is the oil that comes from the olive fruit and excludes the oils that come from using solvents and the re-esterification process.
The extraction of olive pomace oil starts like this: In the olive pomace, a chemical solvent is added, with the ability to dissolve the fats and not the rest of the mass. This chemical solvent addition, gets all the oil out and with high heat the solvent evaporates. With this method, when the heat doesn’t exceed 190 degrees Fahrenheit, the solvent disappears completely without leaving any traces of harmful residue. Using this method the oil is not really containing PAHs and benzopyrene.
When the heat exceeds the 550 degrees Fahrenheit, that is when the oil contains PAHs.
In both ways the fat is becoming liquid and drips out of the olive pomace.
The high heat results in the partial burning of the oil with the rest of the mass. This way the benzopyrenes accumulate in the final oil. So when the heating reaches these high degrees, the oil comes with high health risks for the consumers.
In these cases, it is crucial for the authorities to enforce the classification of the treatments that have been applied for the production of olive pomace oils and protect the consumers from the unscrupulous producers with deceiving packaging and mystery labels.
The benzopyrenes are highly active fats, that can dissolve into cellular membranes and enter the cell’s interior. This results in the aging and death of the cells, or an intoxication resulting in mutagenesis of the generic material in the cell’s nucleons. Many times these damaged cells spread and result in cancerous tumors.
The International Olive Oil Council advises that olive pomace oil should contain less then 2 parts per billion of benzopyrene. We should be very careful about exposing ourselves to PAHs, especially when we ingest food. There are plenty of PAHs in the environment from exhaust emissions, industrial processes, burning trash, smoking, etc.
My opinion is staying away from olive pomace oil for cooking or eating raw. It doesn’t have the taste or the aroma. I don’t think saving a couple of pennies, is worth it. Our health is a priceless element. Let’s do everything in our power to protect it! Stick with olive oil and especially extra virgin olive oil!