California Health and Safety Code (H&SC) Section 112875-112935 defines “olive oil” as the edible oil obtained solely from the fruit of the olive tree. The olive oil cannot be obtained using solvents or re-esterification processes, and a product labeled as “olive oil” cannot be mixed with other oils.
Olive oil grades, such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), Virgin Olive Oil, and Olive Oil, are defined in the H&SC, Olive Oil Chapter.
It is unlawful to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, give away, or to possess “imitation olive oil” in California. Olive oil may be blended with other edible oils, as long as the blend is not labeled as olive oil or imitation olive oil. The blend must be clearly labeled as a blended vegetable oil.
Any olive oil produced, processed, sold, or offered for sale that is labeled as “California Olive Oil” or uses words or images to indicate that California is the source of the olive oil, must be made of olive oil derived solely from olives grown in California.
In 2014, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) approved new grading and labeling standards for California olive oil (see link below).
The standards were recommended by the recently-formed California Olive Oil Commission. Importers and distributors of bulk and bottled olive oil produced outside of California as well as smaller-scale in-state millers are exempt from the standards.
The standards will establish a more stringent limit for free fatty acids, a negative attribute that signals a breakdown of olive oil quality due to exposure to heat, light and oxygen. The standards will be the first in the world to require testing of every lot of oil produced.
If you would like to file a complaint regarding an olive oil product or manufacturer, please contact our toll free complaint line at (800) 495-3232.
Olive oil manufacturers, packers, and distributors in California are required to obtain a Processed Food Registration (PFR).