Public Relations Company

Public Relations Company  
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.

Olive oil
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 oil.

'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 heat.

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 or by calling (02) 9863 8735.

Released for Australian Olive Association by Dennis Rutzou Public Relations (
For further information please call Kim Larochelle or Gemma Crowley on (02) 9413 4244.

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