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Getting to know the different grades of olive oils

When it comes to olive oil, unless you know what you’re looking for, it can be quite a daunting experience when presented with shelves of the stuff or when reading about them online – Extra virgin olive oil, virgin olive oil, refined olive oil, olive pomace oil etc.…

The first question that naturally comes to mind is what are all the different types of olive oils and besides to price, how do they compare with each other?

Let’s remove the confusion and look into the detail

Category A - Virgin Olive Oils

Virgin olive oils are oils which are obtained from the fruit of the olive tree (Olea europaea L.) solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions, particularly thermal conditions, that do not lead to alterations in the oil and which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation and filtration. Virgin olive oils break down into two categories:

  1. Virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are, and
  2. Virgin olive oils that must undergo processing prior to consumption

So, let’s look at the first category. 

Virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

This is the highest grade olive oil. It is a natural oil which has come directly from the olive fruit and has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.80 grams per 100 grams. In addition, no organoleptic defects must be present. This means that it must not taste or smell muddy, musty or rancid; it must attain certain standards regarding aroma and taste with respect to its fruitiness, bitterness and pungency.

Virgin olive oil (VOO)

This is olive oil obtained in the same way as EVOO but is of lesser quality. VOO has a free acidity of not more than 2.0 grams per 100 grams and contrary to EVOO, can possess some organoleptic defects affecting its flavour and aroma.

Ordinary virgin olive oil (OVOO)

OVOO is of lesser quality than VOO in that it has a free acidity of not more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams and can possess even more organoleptic defects.

Virgin olive oils that must undergo processing prior to consumption

Lampante virgin olive oil (LVOO)

Lampante olive oil is also a naturally obtained oil, however, its quality parameters render it unfit for human consumption without further processing. It is a virgin olive oil which has a free acidity of more than 3.3 grams per 100 grams. It is intended for refining or for technical use.

Refined olive oil (ROO)

ROO is made of virgin olive oil that due to many defects is unfit for human consumption. It is subjected to physical or more often chemical processing to remove the defects and make it edible. Chemical processing includes treating it with solvents like sodium hydroxide and subjecting it to high temperatures and other processing methods, in order to produce oil that is colourless, tasteless and odourless. The result is to remove not only the defects of the virgin olive oil but also its important nutrients and antioxidants. It is important to note that the refining methods do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure and it has a free acidity of not more than 0.30 grams per 100 grams.

Olive oil composed of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils (ROO + VOOs)

This is oil consisting of a blend of refined olive oil and virgin olive oils fit for consumption as they are. It has a free acidity of not more than 1.00 gram per 100 grams.

Category B - Olive Pomace Oil

Olive pomace oil is made of the olive pomace. The olive pomace it the the residue after crushing, consisting of pits and flesh of the olives. This substance it then highly processed by use of chemical solvents and heating in order for it to be made fit for human consumption. The processes used to make olive pomace oil may result in the formation of harmful substances that may be carcinogenic. In fact olive pomace oil is not considered to be olive oil at all. To that extent, olive pomace oil cannot be sold with the designation or definition “olive oil”.


So as you can see, not all olive oils are the same; far from it!

To add to the confusion, we have seen various marketing tricks designed to trick consumers into buying something they never intended to. For example, terms such as “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” are made up terms used by large producers and certain supermarkets. If the label states “pure” or “100% pure” or “Light” then the olive oil is a refined oil lacking the taste, aroma and quality of extra virgin olive oil.

We, at Loukakos Estate, only ever produce extra virgin olive oil


The following table is a summarised view of the items covered in this post with some additional information.

Grade of olive oil - Loukakos Estate

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