What's all this "quality-certified" business?

To be considered extra virgin, an olive oil must pass a chemical and sensory evaluation. The chemical analysis verifies that the olive oil meets certain parameters (numbers and facts that we'll spare you from here).

Once an oil has passed the chemical analysis, it must then be evaluated by a sensory panel. These panels, of which there are only a few in the United States, are accredited by national and/or international organizations that ensure each sensory panel's skills align and are on par with the rest of the world's panels. This is serious stuff!

These panels consist of a group of EVOO experts who anonymously evaluate each oil to determine the intensity of its fruitiness, bitterness and pungency, as well as any potential defects (nerd out on all of these characteristics by reading up on Tasting & the Facts). 

Quality seals 

Once an olive oil has passed both chemical and sensory analysis, it can be considered extra virgin (hooray!), and producers may display a quality certification seal. Below are seals from the main sensory panels here in the US — if an oil displays one of these seals (in PRMRY's case, the COOC seal), and is from the most recent harvest, you're on the right track to solid extra virgin.

But wait, why isn't it a guaranteed track to extra virgin? Ahh, well that's because, while an EVOO may receive certification, this doesn't mean that it will remain extra virgin forever. If olive oil gets old, or is exposed to too much light, air or heat, it will go rancid. Visit our Compare page to learn how to assess whether your olive oil is still extra virgin, or if it's time to toss it.