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Not Extra Virgin


zoramargolis
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This topic is of great concern to us at Olio2go.

We've also been following the case filed in Orange County, CA, where chefs are suing the olive oil companies over the labeling -- all related to the UC Davis study released on 15 July. See the Orange County Register article.

In this article, it is mentioned that the chef brought Academia Barilla ($29-$30) back from Italy. I truly wonder why he would carry back (in luggage -- it's post 9-11) an olive oil that is available here! And for the same amount he could have an estate bottled oil from Sicily. With no photos accompanying the article, it is also impossible to find out about the generically named "olio" from Umbria.

Where's the problem with knowing what you purchase? The chefs? Food brokers? Salespeople? How do people know what they are buying and who do you buy from?

There will be more on this in October when the USDA regs go in force, but it seems the enforcement will continue to be a challenge.

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What I recommend is to taste the oil before you buy. I have had very good oils that I would suspect are not all Italian but they were fantastic to taste at a good price. I have also had estate bottles stuff that had off flavors and was stored improperly or was too old.

I am totally in favor of real labeling. Every statement on a label should be 1000% true and traceable. Ridge is my example of quality product accurately labeled {obsessively so} even when the wine is made in tiny amounts. If hey can do it, then any olive oil producer should be able to do so.

But a single origin accurate label guarantees nothing. Olive Oil, like Rhone varieties or zinfandel, can often be made better by blending. Some particular characteristics, like the new mown hay character of Montalcino oil or the cat's pee spiciness of an oil from Volterra just won't allow for a drop of blending {much like Pinot Noir}.

My current finishing oil is supposed to be 100% Tuscan and if it is or isn't, it is a superb oil! My current cooking olive oil is supposed to be 100% Italian and if it is, I will stop saying nasty things about Dan Snyder! I would almost be willing to bet it is 100% olive, but it is Italian via Greece and Spain, and better for that as well.

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That trade group's involvement struck me as not wanted to be left out of the issue of the moment. With regard to the UC Davis research, it really wasn't all that surprising that the grocery store olive oils didn't meet the standard for extra virgin. It seems they were likely bumping up against the threshold when bottled, and with time and light, they "failed" the standard. The "rebuttal" group acted as good politicians in an effort to get into the fight for their own recognition.

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Didn't we start a thread some time ago on an article in The New Yorker that relates to this topic? (Its focus was Italian EVOO that was neither (fully) Italian nor EV.)

Question: Can an OO be V but not EV?

Yes -- absolutely. The simplest standard is acidity. Extra Virgin is 0.8% or below. The next range higher is Virgin (up to 2.0%). Beyond that are declining grades leading to Pomace, which has been seen in local restaurants, but it wouldn't enter my kitchen.

The New Yorker article linked here was really more about true, purposeful adulteration. Such adulteration was not found in the UC Davis research.

For more reading fun, this is the link to the new UDSA Standards for Olive Oil, effective 25 October 2010.

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Yes -- absolutely. The simplest standard is acidity. Extra Virgin is 0.8% or below. The next range higher is Virgin (up to 2.0%).

And yet, I have never once seen olive oil labeled "virgin" offered for sale in a retail store in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter, but the sample size is much smaller). Why is that?
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Thanks for posting the report that named the brands. Anyone buyint these brands and expecting acceptable, much less extra virgin olive oils is foolish indeed. Pompeian, Colavita, Carapelli are corporate crap masquerading as real deal stuff. Support big name corporate agricibusiness and get what you deserve.

To quote my favorite movie line....

"I am shocked that gambling is going on in my establishment!"

In closing, the check is in the mail!

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And yet, I have never once seen olive oil labeled "virgin" offered for sale in a retail store in the United States (or anywhere else, for that matter, but the sample size is much smaller). Why is that?

There has been a grading difference between standards in the U.S., and the European Standards (which we prefer). I believe that the new U.S. standards are using the European terms and leaving behind the 1948-"fancy" term.

I'd have to go to the grocery store to share at the shelves. I know that I've seen just "olive oil" but can't remember about Virgin.

Are you familiar with OliveOilSource? They do a good job with definitions and standards.

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Thanks for posting the report that named the brands. Anyone buyint these brands and expecting acceptable, much less extra virgin olive oils is foolish indeed. Pompeian, Colavita, Carapelli are corporate crap masquerading as real deal stuff. Support big name corporate agricibusiness and get what you deserve.

So, Dean, is there a grocery store (or other readily available and not hideously expensive) brand that you would recommend?

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Whole Foods used to ahve a brand Lischetto that I liked a lot, and tow oild from Garda coops whose exact names I don't recall. One has a blue thesed label and the other a yellow or gren themed label and clearly were from the same producer. Sorry I can't be more specific. Villa manodori is superb for balsamico and they have a nice finishing oil.

Other than that, I have not bought a bottle of olive oil at retail in over 5 years.

If someone can get you into Restaurant Depot, then they ahve a good cooking oil that I would be willing to bet is neither 100% virgin nor Italian but is quite nice nonetheless.

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So, Dean, is there a grocery store (or other readily available and not hideously expensive) brand that you would recommend?

i remember a while back the WaPo food section had a tasting of olive oils and goya did surprisingly well. i went out and bought a bottle and was reasonably happy with it. what was funny is that when that bottle ran out, i went to re-purchase and found that the price had increased by at least $2-$3 a bottle, a dramatic change because it's so relatively inexpensive.

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