First and foremost, the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), that sets the standards, has recently made the rules a bit more strict. This is actually good news. Unfortunately, the bad news is that the United States is not a part of the IOOC (International Olive Oil Council ), so the IOOC grading regulations do not have any enforceable meaning in the U.S.
That being said, there are a handful of correctly-labeled Olive Oils available in the states.
Here's What the People Terms Generally Mean:
Until 1995,'Extra Virgin' Olive Oil simply meant that the oil was mechanically generated (pressed, rather than chemically refined), and had an oleic acid level under 0.8 percent.
'Virgin' Olive Oil was mechanically produced, with acidity of between 0.8% and 3%; other grades follow, concluding with lampante, or'lamp oil' Just a small amount of quality manufacturers bother to market any petroleum that isn`t Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
In 1995, the IOOC added a new requirement for Extra Virgin status: the Olive Oil should taste good (what a concept). In addition, Olive Oils are put through a blind organoleptic analysis by a panel of Olive Oil experts. They are rated on a 9-point scale, and has to score 6.5 or higher to get'extra virgin' designation.
The members of the California Olive Oil Council (including DaVero, that was a founding member) voluntarily adopted international standards for labeling. Since the beginning, domestic manufacturers have been working together with the US authorities to get labeling laws in the US that are consistent with those used elsewhere in the world.
You may have noticed that you can purchase Olive Oil from the supermarket that is labeled as'Pure' or'Original' or'Light' or the like. These pretty much mean that the Olive Oil has been refined, rather than simply pressed.