Extra virgin olive oil is the best grade of olive oil and its acidity doesn’t exceed the 0.8%. Its taste and quality are superior. 80% of Greece’s olive oil production is extra virgin, Italy’s 45% and Spain’s 30%.
The biggest olive oil producers in the world are Spain, Italy and Greece.
The different names of olive oils indicate that the processing and quality has undergone some changes. The extra virgin olive oil is the best quality and during its extraction process, no heat or chemicals have been used. Poly-phenols and antioxidants are in high levels and very beneficial to health.
The first cold press, means the olives were crashed once and no heat was used.
Many times unscrupulous producers sell olive oil mixed with other oil and sell as extra virgin olive oil, as long as the acidity standards meet. The health benefits though are not there.
The adulteration of olive oil is very serious. It is believed that in Spain in 1981, over 600 people died from consuming rapeseed oil, mixed with aniline, an industrial lubricant and was sold as olive oil in street markets.
This outbreak is called “the olive oil syndrome” and is a challenging and complicated disease. About 20,000 survivors have to live with it, ever since.
In Italy and Spain are allegations that the regulations are very corrupt. Because adulterated olive oil and sometimes colza oil, a Swedish turnip, are sold as olive oil.
Olive oil fraud became so bad, that the Italian government stepped in and made a mandatory law in 2007, for companies selling olive oil, to declare the origin it was produced, on every bottle, also the oils used for blended oils. The EU change the law and under the new law, olive oil can be sold as Italian, if it contains a small part of Italian olive oil.
In March 2008 an operation conducted by Italian Police called “Operation Golden Oil,” arrested 25 people and confiscated over 80 farms for a scheme to label oils from other countries, as Italian olive oils. The same year 40 people were arrested and 7 olive oil plants were impounded, because they were adding chlorophyll to sunflower and soybean oil and selling it as extra virgin olive oil.
On March 2011 the procecutor’s office, along with the forestry department, indicted 3 people working for the Spanish company Grupo, for being involved in food fraud.
In February 2012 another International olive oil scandal arise, where avocado and sunflower and other low cost oils, were released by Spanish authorities as olive oil. The oils were blended in an industrial biodiesel plant and adulterated to hide their true origin.
Consumer BE AWARE of unscrupulous, greedy producers and don’t allow them to fool you with their bad oil. DEMAND the best quality of extra virgin olive oil. For your health!