How to Buy Olive Oil

Provided by the North American Olive Oil Association

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Consumers seeking authentic quality olive oil can be proactive in 3 areas:

  1. Be mindful of handling and storage conditions.
  2. Read and interpret the label.
  3. Look for a reputable supplier.

Handling and Storage

The three enemies of olive oil quality are heat, light and air. All olive oils will naturally degrade over time, and exposure to these three enemies will speed up the degradation.

At the store, signs of improper handling and storage include dust on the bottle, evidence of oil drips or leaks, a broken or loose seal on the cap, or an amber or orange tint to the oil (indicates overexposure to fluorescent lighting).

At home, store your olive oil in a cool, dark place and keep the cap closed when not in use. Don’t store olive oil next to the stove or by a window, and don’t leave an open pour spout on the bottle. Once you break the initial seal, try to use the oil within a few months – if it starts to smell rancid, it’s time for a new bottle!

Reading and Interpreting the Label

Reputable suppliers will be sure to comply with federal labeling rules and will include details on their product labels such as the distributing or packaging company’s information, a country of origin statement, a clear ingredient statement, a lot code and a best-by date. 

Certifications and seals may convey additional information. The NAOOA Quality Seal is the only program in North America that pulls samples from retail shelves and tests for compliance with all chemical and sensory tests according to the International Olive Council (IOC) standard. 

Find a Reputable Supplier

The NAOOA has been randomly sampling and testing olive oils from supermarket shelves for more than 20 years. All kinds of olive oils are sent to International Olive Council (IOC) certified labs and run through a gamut of tests that show the overwhelming majority of olive oil sold in stores today is authentic.

All NAOOA members agree to random independent sampling and testing of their olive oils, and failure to meet the standards can lead to dismissal from the association. Get a list of current NAOOA member companies