The versatility and rich flavors of healthy, authentic EVOO make it a delicious addition to any meal - and its ability to lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, and lower the risk of heart disease have made it a prized staple worldwide.
Unfortunately, its popularity has also made it a target for counterfeiters and frauds hoping to benefit from growing demand from conscious consumers. And, though many assume that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is keeping an eye out for illegitimate products, the truth is that they have their hands full.
This means it is up to you to make sure that the products you find at your local grocer are really what they claim to be!
Don't be fooled by vague language, fakes, or imprecise labels. This is what you need to be looking for, when shopping for healthy, authentic EVOO.
The words "Extra-Virgin Olive Oil". While there is no guarantee of authenticity - bottles which aren’t labeled as extra-virgin olive oil are definitely not the real deal. Words like “light”, “virgin”, and “pure” hold no meaning when it comes to olive oil - except as an indicator of inferior product, and likely refinement with chemicals.
To be labeled as “extra-virgin olive oil”, the oil, immediately after the olives have been milled, must undergo rigorous quality testing to prove that it is both unrefined, and contains an oleic acid level lower than 1%. Finding these words on the label is the first step in ensuring you’re buying healthy, authentic EVOO. And, don’t worry if the bottle doesn’t say “cold-pressed” specifically - olive oils which receive the extra-virgin designation are never processed at high temperatures (and most are produced via centrifuge).
The location of origin. A high-quality EVOO will always list its birthplace or source - so beware of vague wording. “Made in Italy” might mean the product was simply bottled at a facility located within the country - not that the olives were grown or harvested there.
The most well-known extra-virgin olive oils come from fruits grown in the regions of Tuscany, Apulia (Puglia) or Sicily, so seek out products originating in these areas - or look for those specifically marked as PGI Certified. This certification means that the olives were grown and pressed and the oil bottled and has passed a special inspection, confirming its origin in an area defined by the European Union’s Protected Geographical Indication.
A high-quality bottle. Authentic extra-virgin olive oil should always be stored in green or amber glass, in order to limit exposure to light and maintain its freshness. Clear glass, plastic, or metal containers should always be avoided, as they are a sure indicator of low-quality or degraded product.
A harvest date. Ignore expiration dates, as these are arbitrary, and not defined by legal standards. What you’ll want to notice is whether or not your bottle is labeled with a harvest date. If you don’t see it listed, the oil may have been stored for several years - or mixed with a lesser quality oil.
The closer to harvest date, the better - as healthy, authentic EVOO exhibits the greatest benefits (and best flavor!) when fresh
Third-party certifications. High-quality EVOOs will be proud to mention their collaboration with trusted third-party organizations. Look for stamps or seals which indicate your product is non-GMO, and has undergone Bureau Veritas verification, USDA Organic certification, or reviews from other trusted parties.
Though you won’t find it printed on the label - the best indicator of a high-quality EVOO is the fresh, rich taste you experience when opening the bottle. So, trust your senses! And use these helpful tips to ensure you’re choosing a healthy, authentic EVOO every time.
Still not sure you can trust the EVOOs you see on the shelves of your local grocer? At Bellucci, we grow trust from the ground up. Each bottle we make is marked with the harvest date, to ensure your EVOO arrives fresh - then lovingly carried from farm to table.
Our unique traceability app uses contemporary technology to provide complete transparency into the origin of your EVOO - try it today, and find the birthplace of your Bellucci!