When we do trade shows and tasting sessions, one of the most frequently asked questions is: “Is it cold pressed extra virgin olive oil?”. Someone goes a little bit more in detail: “Is it first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil?”. This is due to a campaign made a few years ago, encouraging people to choose “cold pressed extra virgin olive oil”. “Cold pressed”, meaning extracted at a temperature under 27°, is a necessary but not sufficient condition for an olive oil to be high-quality. It is a necessary condition because if the temperature goes beyond 27°, there is a deterioration of the chemical profile (antioxidants, peroxides and acidity) and the organoleptic properties (aroma and taste); but it is not sufficient because to make a high-quality extra virgin olive oil there is a lot more to be done. First of all, quality depends on the olive variety, the type of olive grove, the agronomic attention to the trees from the winter dormancy to the harvest, the utmost care and speed of transport of the harvested olives to the mill, the cold extraction and the storage. Therefore, “cold pressed extra virgin olive oil” is definitely something vital to look for on the extra virgin olive oil label, but there is a whole world behind the production of top-quality products.

Regarding “first cold pressed olive oil” it is an indication no longer allowed on labels as with modern techniques there is no need of pressing the oil more than once.

Regarding “cold pressed extra virgin olive oil” and “cold extracted extra virgin olive oil”, in most cases the latter is a more precise definition,  as the majority of the extra virgin olive oils on the market are nowadays obtained through centrifugation or percolation rather than from an hydraulic press.

“Premium extra virgin olive oil obtained directly from olives solely by mechanical means” is the legal definition you will have to find on the labels of an extra virgin olive oil. Then somewhere in the front of the label you will likely find “cold pressed (extra virgin olive oil)” or “cold extracted (extra virgin olive oil)”. However, this is the legal requirement and many brands don’t go any further. Other important information we need to know about the product is not on the label but can be provided by traders who guarantee the traceability of the product.

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