Que Choisir, the French product testing magazine, published a report on comparative tests of olive oil. Aimed at protecting the consumer and based on chemical and sensory standards set out by International Olive Council, (IOC) the jury tested and compared thirty extra virgin olive oils sold in retail outlets in France.
The tests showed that
- The most expensive olive oils were not necessarily the best.
- Labeling did not always comply exactly with the content of the bottle.
The jury followed protocol guidelines; 70 percent of the results were based on physico- chemical tests and 30 percent on sensory analyses.
Each of the thirty bottles was tested for acidity levels, all falling under 0.8 percent as required by IOC; the jury awarded stars — three stars for extra virgin oils showing levels between 0.2 percent and under, two stars for acidity levels of 0.5 percent and under.
Consumers were alerted to oils which were mediocre and of inferior quality. Some of the oils did meet the required EVOO standards; but these oils were subjected to a second jury before being demoted to virgin olive oil.
Results showed that despite carrying the EVOO labels, the product quality varied. Olive oils carrying the Appellation D’Origine Contrôlee (AOC) or Appellation D’Origine Protégée (AOP) labels were generally found to be of exceptional quality while those from other European countries and carrying private labels were of lesser quality, according to the tests.
Of course, there was quite a difference in price; consumers can pay from 3 to 40 euros per liter of olive oil.
Chateau d’Estoublon for example, one of the most expensive extra virgin olive oils tested, sold for around 38.67 euros per liter.
This intense fruity green olive oil, with the Appellation D’Origine Protégée Vallée des Baux de Provence (AOP) label was judged to be of exceptional quality, with a low acidity and peroxide level.
Château de Montfrin, another favourite which sells at 18.10 Euros per liter was chosen as “best choice” for the third consecutive time. This is fruity green oil with hints of artichoke and cut grass.
An extra virgin olive oil , marketed and sold under the brand name of Auchan, one of the leading hypermarkets was rated as best value for the money. Priced at 4.59 Euros per liter, the judges found this oil, likely from Spain, to be perfectly convenient for everyday use.