What exactly do the “virgin” and “extra-virgin” in olive oil mean?

The purity of some extra-virgin olive oils is being challenged.

A recent report found that 69 percent of imported oils and 10 percent of domestic oils sampled from grocery stores shelves in the U.S. did not meet the international standards that define the title of extra-virgin.

But what do these terms really mean? Is there a measurable difference between the virgin and extra virgin labels?

(If your mind is more on coffee right now, consider the mysterious origin of the word “coffee” here. Then come back, refreshed, and dip into this story.)

According to the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), the answer is yes. Extra-virgin olive oil should come only from virgin oil productions and contain no more than .8 percent acidity. During the extraction process, no chemicals should be used. Extra-virgin olive oil should be cold-pressed, which means that no heat over a certain temperature was used during processing.

Then of course, there’s the taste. Olive oils with the extra-virgin designation should have superior flavor and aroma. It is recommended that they be used in salad dressings, to dip bread in, or to drizzle on top of sauces.

Extra-virgin olive oils are fragile. Exposure to high temperatures and even light can lead to their deterioration.

The labels “pure olive oil” and just plain old “olive oil” indicate a blend of refined and virgin production oil. Olive pomace oil is obtained by using chemicals in the extraction.

Currently, the USDA lists four grades of olive oil, which were established in 1948. The highest quality bears the cute name U.S. Fancy, or U.S. Grade A.

The word olive derives from the Greek elaia and possibly the older Armenian term ewi, “oil.” Shakespeare apparently coined the name Olivia, from the male name Oliver. The olive branch is a traditional symbol of peace that dates back at least to the Bible, when a dove brought Noah an olive branch to indicate the discovery of land.

The olive branch may signify peace, but why is the avocado known as the “fertility fruit?” Find out here.

People shouldn’t lose sleep when shopping to select a new mattress.(Life-Today)

Albany Times Union (Albany, NY) January 28, 2007 Byline: TERRI JO RYAN – Cox News Service Tossing and turning about that big decision to buy a new mattress?

The choices can be bewildering, as it’s tricky to tell one box of fuzz, foam, fabric and frame from another. Model names vary from shop to shop, making it difficult to compare similar models.

To help you not lose any more sleep as you ponder the options, consider these tips:

If you share the bed, take your partner. Make sure you won’t be fighting for space.

Wear comfortable clothes to lay down (pants are a good idea) and shoes you can remove easily.

Lie down and relax for several minutes. Ask the sales clerk for a pillow. Lie on your side, to see if your hips and shoulders are comfortable. Do you feel your weight being supported? You shouldn’t feel any pressure points.

Roll from the center of the mattress to the edges, to see if the support is the same at all points. Verify that the mattress has extra support around the edges where you would sit most often.

Look for a sturdy frame. A good frame has 2-inch wide wheels. Look for a center support for queen and king mattresses. Even full-size beds benefit from the extra support. go to website hp warranty check

Be sure to try out several models.

If you can afford it, buy a complete “sleep set” – mattress and box spring. They are designed to work together. A quality box spring acts as a shock absorber to help the mattress last longer and provide more consistent support. go to web site hp warranty check

Haggle for the best price. There is some wiggle room built into the price for negotiation.

Examine the warranty. Most premium mattresses come with at least a 10-year warranty.

Check that the retailer offers free delivery and set-up, removal of old mattress and box spring, a free frame, several credit options, and a 30-60 day comfort guarantee.

After you get it home:

Try to rotate the mattress every three months and to turn the mattress at least twice a year.

Buy a mattress pad that can be easily laundered and will extend the life of your mattress.

Do your homework Before you buy a mattress, you should know:

Coil type – With coils, which are made of steel, the heavier the wire, the more support the mattress will give. A lower gauge number denotes a heavier wire.

Coil count – Most mattress boast from 300 to 700. In general, more coils equal more support.

Connections – Interconnecting wires keep the coils in their proper place in the mattress. Too few, and the coils can become misaligned.

Ticking – Read labels to see what the ticking is made of. Quality ticking will be a cotton blend or damask, but ticking may also be a synthetic, such as polyester.

Study all of the available information, read the labeling and insist that the salesperson tell you about product features. Ask to see the spec sheet if you want to know what you are getting.

If you seek a mattress that you will sleep on every night for the next decade, don’t skimp. A $500-$700 set, for example, will last eight to 10 years. Should you purchase a top-of-the-line, premium product – which can cost thousands of dollars – you will slumber in luxury for 12 to 15 years.

Sources: BetterSleep.org; US-Mattress.com; OriginalMattress.com; FurnitureFind.com; GoMattress.com


  1. Mahlon McLean -  November 21, 2016 - 11:45 am

    I live in the Veneto region of Italy and we go directly to the frontoia (olive press) to get our olive oil. We were told when we first moved here that if you live in France, you become a wine snob, but if you live in Italy you become an olive oil snob. I think they were right.

    Here, the labeling of extra virgin and virgin is highly regulated and the oil producers can lose their entire business if found cheating. To be extra virgin, the oil must be from the first pressing and without generating any additional heat in the process. The first pressing is done quite gently and the berries are hardly squeezed at all. The oil fairly runs off the olives just by coming into contact with other olives. After that oil is drained off, the residue again is pressed more forcefully but without generating any heat in the process. That second run is labeled virgin.

    Then the other oils are generally bottled as flavored with lemon, peppers, rosemary or garlic. Anything after that is sold to the commercial producers and exporters. The Pompeians, Bertollis, and other brands in the US, are generally the lowest quality but are labelled for the US market where the terms extra virgin and virgin are not regulated.

    I guess I have become an olive oil snob. But the really fascinating thing is that under Italian law there must be absolutely no waste left over from the pressing of the olives. Aside from the oil, the process generates a significant amount of water which is collected as it runs off and then piped back into the fields as irrigation water. The solids are sold as animal feed or reprocessed and scattered back into the fields to enrich the soil. Literally nothing is wasted.

    But the real reason I looked up “extra virgin” and “virgin” is that I bought a jar of coconut oil today and it was labeled as “extra virgin.” The mental image of a bunch of coconuts being pressed like olives was startling to say the least.

    Thanks for your indulgence.

  2. john -  August 11, 2015 - 9:18 am

    I import Olive Oil to TX from my home town in Southern France. I import it from a communal mill, where farmers and people bring their olives to be crushed and receive olive oil in exchange. The mill keeps a little part of the oil and sells it to cover the running costs.
    The qualification “given” for extra virgin, is based on an acidity content, and the fact that the olives have to be crushed within 24 hours of harvest from the orchard.
    We offer Virgin Olive oil, but with different labels
    Organic – (very little quantity)
    AOC (now AOP) certification that garranties that batches of olives are not crushed together (origin controlled label). The land is controlled and regulated.
    and traditional, which is the most current…

    Olive oil has to be kept between 67-68 and 73 degrees to last, and away from light

    • Hasan Abdul Naim -  December 17, 2015 - 12:07 pm


      You are requested to share your business experience as goods of import business this Product at our country, Bangladesh.

      Thanks & Regards

  3. Syl Johns -  July 1, 2015 - 3:01 pm

    Everybody is leaping all over the “plain olive oil” and “extra-virgin olive oil” but I see plenty of “virgin olive oil” on shelves. I still don’t know the difference between the virgin and extra virgin because, for the most part, nobody’s address that yet. The original question was what’s the difference between “virgin olive oil” and “extra-virgin olive oil.”

  4. Olive Jim -  December 20, 2014 - 3:03 pm

    Wow. Just wow. I mean just wow. Keep it up chaps. The info is astounding. I mean wow. Just wow. Virgins. And oil. Whoooooar……

    • Joe -  January 6, 2015 - 4:59 pm

      Wow. Just wow. I mean just wow. Your post brings absolutely nothing to the discussion and probably just should not have been posted. Just wow.

  5. AMIR SAEED -  December 13, 2013 - 7:20 am

    YES AND OFF COURSE USE ONLY THUMB RULE”the nose knows, and the tongue will tell.” “

  6. wolf tamer and tree puncher -  November 21, 2013 - 4:49 am

    To make olive oil, the olives are squished. Virgin olive oil is squished again, and extra-virgin olive oil is squished a third time. I learned that at an olive farm in Tuscany. But I really don’t care what kind of olive oil I use – olive oil is olive oil to me.

    :-/ What do u mean?

    There are emoticons for everything. Did you know >:P means “phbbbbpt”? And >:D< means "big hug"? And =)) means "rolling on the floor"?

  7. Sammy -  June 2, 2013 - 8:25 am

    I’m from Morocco, the pure Olive oil should sour your throat when you taste it, the one they sell here in US is just crap, has no taste at all.

  8. small business accounting software -  May 15, 2013 - 10:58 am

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    info for me. And i’m satisfied reading your article. However should statement on few normal things, The site taste is perfect, the articles is actually nice : D. Good process, cheers

  9. Daniel Pitt -  April 16, 2013 - 11:04 pm

    Extra virgin olive oil in australia,We use freshly harvested olives & sell premium quality extra virgin olive oil. You will get only fresh olive oil from us.
    Extra Virgin Olive oil

  10. Luke Weyland -  December 12, 2012 - 6:37 pm

    How can they tell if the women they squeeze into the olive oil bottle are still virgins?

  11. where to buy fresh salmon -  September 6, 2010 - 4:01 pm

    Extra virgin means the oil is the juice of the first pressing of the olives. No chemicals or heat will have been used in the process. And right after extraction, the oil will have been sent to a local laboratory for chemical analysis and tasting tests by a panel of experts. Extra-virgin olive oil has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams.

    Suresh Raises
    Burbank, CA

  12. patent attorney fees -  September 6, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    “Extra-virgin olive oil is from the first pressing of unripe olives. It’s cold-pressed, meaning no heat is applied to aid in extraction; heat could damage the flavor, and flavor is what extra-virgin olive oil is all about.”

    Sara Bir, Great olive oil for less Selecting and using extra-virgin olive oils,” The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon, March 10, 2009

  13. Thousand Oaks childrens dentist -  July 28, 2010 - 12:58 pm

    I would like to know if they measured the hydroxytyrosols in the samples they tested. Given the health benefits of hydroxytyrosols I would to know why EVOO bottle labels don’t list them as ingredients. The hydroxytyrosols in extra virgin olive oil (Spain and Italy) appear to be an inhibitor of the enzymes that produce pro-inflammatory eicosanoids, just as aspirin does. This begins to explain the Crete paradox. This population consumes more than 40 percent of their calories as fat (primarily extra-virgin olive oil), but has the lowest rate of heart disease in the Mediterranean region. They are basically taking liquid aspirin (at least according to http://www.buy-extra-virgin-olive-oil.com ).

    Karen Busher
    Agoura Hills, CA

  14. Patrick Chan -  July 27, 2010 - 7:55 pm

    Olive branches don on ancient Greeks’ also symbolize wisdom. correct?

  15. Parch -  July 27, 2010 - 7:36 am

    thanks for the chuckle, Gary!!!

  16. Cheeky Bill -  July 26, 2010 - 10:08 am

    hee hee, “virgin”!

  17. NoLo -  July 26, 2010 - 6:00 am

    I just look for “First Cold Pressing” on my olive oil purchases because I generally only use it for raw consumption. I always refrigerate after opening and am confident I have the first cold pressing when the olive oil becomes cloudy and sets up like butter in the coldness of the fridge. Even from the small neck of a Pompeiian bottle, I can dig some out with a knife to spread in place of butter… but it melts quickly at room temp. Grape seed oil like from Carapelli, on the other hand does not set up and remains easily pourable straight from the fridge. Holds up very well at high temps for cooking so I personally often use a blend of both for cooking.

    But like apple juice, if your olive oil has that “mother” floating around in it, it is in my opinion infinitely better for your good health.

    I just wish that any and all of these oil sellers would go back to glass instead of plastic. I may want to have real children someday instead of plastic infused ones.

  18. Ibiki -  July 24, 2010 - 3:03 pm

    The results of the study

    Nineteen brands (14 imported, 5 California) were assayed at UC Davis and the Australian Oils Research Laboratory, a government research center and testing laboratory in New South Wales certified by the International Olive Council.

    Only one of the imported brands, Costco’s Kirkland Organic, had all samples meet the IOC/USDA Extra Virgin Olive Oil sensory standards (olfactory, gustatory, tactile/kinaesthetic) compared with four out of five California oils. The brands, with the fraction that passed, are listed below:

    0/3 Bertolli
    0/3 Carapelli
    1/3 Colavita
    1/3 Filippo Berio
    2/3 Great Value 100%
    3/3 Kirkland Organic
    0/3 Mazola
    0/3 Mezzetta
    1/3 Newman’s Own Organics
    0/3 Pompeian
    1/3 Rachael Ray
    1/3 Safeway Select
    2/3 Star
    1/3 Whole Food 365 100% Italian

    1/2 Bariani
    2/2 California Olive Ranch (study funder)
    2/2 Corto Olive (study funder)
    2/2 Lucero Ascolano
    2/2 McEvoy Ranch Organic

    In a blog post announcing that its products passed the UC Davis tests, California Olive Ranch wrote:

    Part of the reason bogus EVOO can be sold in this country is because there are no federal standards governing quality. The USDA recently adopted standards meant to ensure the bottle of extra virgin olive oil you buy at the store is genuine and not some fake EVOO. The new federal standards, however, are voluntary.

  19. Gary -  July 24, 2010 - 1:52 pm

    I always heard that “virgin” olive oil came from really ugly olives.

  20. Kimster -  July 24, 2010 - 1:11 pm

    It’s easy to get lost and confused in the maze of different designations.
    In addition, none of criteria is really verifiable, and the variations are infinite. Who guarantees the label on the bottle? I liken it to expiration dates on food products. Just because the date is expired, the product is not necessarily bad, and just because it isn’t is not a guarantee that it’s good. My rule of thumb is, “the nose knows, and the tongue will tell.” Find what works for you and stick with it.

  21. FulfuraterX -  July 24, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    Notice the rejected importation percent was 69.

  22. medigap insurance -  July 24, 2010 - 11:49 am

    Which brands do meet international standards that define the pure, cold-pressed, olive oils that deserve the extra virgin title?

  23. Mark -  July 24, 2010 - 10:37 am

    Isn’t there an “extra-extra” virgin standard that I recall being sold years ago? If so, what on earth did that designate?

  24. jeff:P -  July 24, 2010 - 9:59 am

    The main thing I came away from the article was what Jamie asked in her comment “Jamie on July 24, 2010 at 7:33 am
    So… what brands are TRUE virgin olives then? Does anyone know?”
    I would like to have this information as well as to the extra-virgin brands.

  25. Gianna Herzog -  July 24, 2010 - 8:34 am

    We figured it would be like this; since the “First cold pressed extra Virgin Olive Oil” in Italy, France, Spain or Greece is much more expensive than over here. Please explain the difference between “cold pressed” and “first cold pressed”?
    Thank you,
    Gianna Herzog

  26. Jamie -  July 24, 2010 - 7:33 am

    So… what brands are TRUE virgin olives then? Does anyone know?

  27. yvette norton -  July 24, 2010 - 6:06 am


  28. Vaishnavi -  July 24, 2010 - 2:37 am

    It was really an informative one.I would also like to know the importance of olive oil & also the extraction process of Olive oil.

  29. Annie A -  July 24, 2010 - 1:55 am

    Thank you for providing very interesting facts and useful information! Keep up the good work of collecting informative historical data. Makes great sense!

  30. saturdayafternoon -  July 24, 2010 - 12:14 am

    A olive tree is an attrubute to Athena, who is a goddess of weaving and commands battles. Her owl represents wisdom (and eggheads). On the other hand, Hermes would be more appropriate for a real egghead to adhere to since the Mercury is in the furthest from the Saturn. The extra-virgin oil needs to be cold-pressed while mercury is sole metal to be movable at the normal temperature.


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