MEDIA RELEASE 24 March 2009
Oily confusion: separating the good olive oil from the bad
Virgin. Light. Extra virgin. Pure. Confusion continues to plague the consumer
gazing at the crowded olive oil shelves. With so many types of olive oil on the
market, how can the average shopper separate the good olive oil from the bad?
According to recent research conducted on behalf of the Australian Olive
Association (AOA) and the Australian Government Rural Industries Research and
Development Corporation (RIRDC), 61 per cent of Australians do not know how to
gauge the quality of olive oil.
Paul Miller, president of the AOA, believes it is important for Australian
consumers to be aware of the different types of olive oils and the true meaning
behind these labels.
"There is considerable confusion around what olive oil is the best in regards to
flavour, quality and health benefits. Consumers need to understand the
differences between the several types of olive oil on the market to ensure they
are buying a superior product," said Paul.
Paul explains the different types of olive oil to help Australian consumers make
a more informed decision when next purchasing this essential cooking ingredient.
Extra virgin olive oil
This oil is the top of the range in terms of health benefits and flavour. It is
rich and diverse in protective antioxidants which help lower bad cholesterol and
maintain the beneficial HDL cholesterol.
Extra virgin olive oil is the natural oil from quality olives that have been
picked straight off the tree and extracted as soon as possible without the use
of chemicals or excessive heat. To be extra virgin, the oil must have a
perfectly balanced flavour and aroma with a free acidity level of no more than
0.8 per cent.
The AOA has developed a Code of Practice and Australian Extra Virgin brand that
support quality, authenticity and confidence in the Australian olive industry.
Only the olive oils that pass flavour and chemical testings are able to display
the Code of Practice certification symbol on their product.
Virgin olive oil
Virgin olive oil is slightly lower in quality than extra virgin olive oil
containing acidity levels of no more than two per cent.
This is the middle of the range oil. This oil is a blend of refined oil with
some virgin oil and has a mild olive flavour.
The term 'refined' means that the oil has been chemically treated which
neutralises the oil's beneficial acidic content, health qualities and flavours.
Refined oil is commonly regarded as lower quality. For an oil to be classified
as extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil, it cannot contain any refined
'Pure' or 'light' olive oil
A common misconception surrounds this type of oil. The words 'pure' and 'light'
often lead consumers to believe that this oil is a healthy option containing
fewer calories. However, 'pure' or 'light' olive oil contains the same number of
calories as other types of olive oil - 115 calories per tablespoon.
The word 'light' refers to the oil's light colour, aroma and flavour due to the
fact that it has been refined. As such it also lacks the natural antioxidant
content of extra virgin olive oils.
'Cold pressed' or 'cold extracted' olive oil
The vast majority of extra virgin olive oil produced throughout the world today,
including Australia, is done without the use of a traditional olive oil press.
As such, the term 'cold pressed' has little relevance today. It is therefore
more appropriate to refer to this oil as 'cold extracted'.
Olive oil that is 'cold extracted' is extracted without the use of additional
The Australian Olive Association was founded in 1995 as the industry body to
encourage research and dissemination of information and the sustained
development of a national olive industry in Australia.
More information on Australian Extra Virgin is available at
www.australianextravirgin.com.au or by calling (02) 9863 8735.
Released for Australian Olive Association by Dennis Rutzou Public Relations (www.drpr.com.au)
For further information please call Kim Larochelle or Gemma Crowley on (02) 9413