The Feds have cracked down on olive oil. The USDA has adopted scientific standards and legal definitions for olive oil terms, such as extra virgin, virgin, pomace, light, extra light, unfiltered, and cold-pressed.

Fall olive harvest will be the start of new federal standard.

The move was petitioned by the California Olive Oil Council, a trade association of olive oil producers, to make oil producers accountable for freshness and purity, ease pressure on prices, and help shoppers become informed consumers. The USDA will start enforcing the standards in October when olives are harvested.

Until now, there was no objective criteria for the various grades of olive oil and no common language for trade and quality assurance.  The marketing terms were pretty confusing and meaningless to consumers.  The USDA grade standards are available here (PDF).

For some time there has been concern over the quality and alteration of olive oil brought into the United States.  With the enforcement of federal standards, unscrupulous importers will be unable to sell lesser quality refined olive oil or oil mixed with cheaper oils, such as sunflower seed or hazelnut oils, as a premium grade oil.

In 2008, U.S. olive oil production was 3.8 million pounds.  Domestic consumption of olive oil in 2008 was just over 450 million pounds per year which was mostly imported.

Karen Owoc

I’m a Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Clinical Exercise Physiologist certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, KRON 4's weekly health expert, speaker, and author of my book on functional longevity, “Athletes in Aprons: The Nutrition Playbook to Break 100".

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  1. Ms Owoc
    Your reporting on olive oil was excellent. Your delivery and use of hands really captured the viewer
    Good Job!!!

  2. link to USDA standards didn’t take you right there, and olive oil standards in the search bar didn’t mmediately get it either. put the standards in the article, so people know what to buy that’s the best, karl

    1. Thank you for calling that to my attention, Karl. I linked the 2010 U.S. Standards to a PDF where the details can be viewed. ~Karen

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