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Extra Virgin: what does it mean?

What does "Extra Virgin" mean? In Europe, strict criteria must be met before an olive oil may be labeled as "Extra Virgin". Essentially the oil must pass two tests:

  • A chemical analysis: acidity level, peroxide level and UV absorbency
  • A sensory evaluation: taste test

 Interestingly there are no corresponding rules in the United States. This lack of regulation in the US allows European producers to ship and sell us olive oil that would fail the European criteria and still call it "Extra Virgin". So purchasing an imported "extra virgin" olive oil does not guarantee quality - in fact you could be getting ripped off!

In California, growers have adopted a voluntary set of criteria established by the California Olive Oil Council, which meet or exceed the European standards. All olive oils sold at il Fustino are guaranteed to meet either the European or COOC certification for Extra Virgin.