Certifications, Seals, and Awards | The Olive Oil Source

Certifications, Seals, and Awards

Extra Virgin Certification
California State Definitions
Other Seals
Awards and Medals

These organizations are spearheading most of the activity behind encouraging truth in product quality.

The California Olive Oil Council (COOC) is the group in the United States dedicated to domestic industry growth and quality standards. It is the only organization that currently provides olive oil grade certification in the United States although a USDA-sanctioned certification program will follow finalization of a proposed revision to the current U.S. Standards for Grades of Olive Oil.

The UC Davis Olive Center announced the creation of an Olive Oil Taste Panel in November 2009. Its purpose is threefold: to allow olive oils to be certified as extra virgin following the official sensory evaluation criteria and procedures of the International Olive Council (IOC); to provide a full sensory profile of the olive oils to their producers following standard descriptive analysis practices; to act as a descriptive analysis panel for research projects conducted at the University of California, Davis or collaborating institutions.

The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has long supported international standards and worldwide cooperation among industry producers.


California Olive Oil
Oil labeled "California Olive Oil" must be made solely from olives grown in California.

American Viticultural Areas (AVA) labeled Olive Oil
Oil labeled with one of the approved American Viticultural Areas under federal law, e.g. Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley, Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (dear to The Olive Oil Source as it is where we are located), has to be made of oil 75% of which is derived from olives grown in that area.

Estate Grown Olive Oil
Oil labeled "Estate Grown" must be made of oil 95% of which is derived from that particular estate.

Other certifications, awards and seals available for olive oil are numerous and can be confusing. Some are truly useful for the consumer and others less so.

California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
CCOF is a non-profit membership based organic certification and trade association, dedicated to promoting and supporting organic food and agriculture, through a premier organic certification program, trade support, producer and consumer education and political advocacy. CCOF provides certification services to all stages of the organic food chain from farms to processors, restaurants and retailers. CCOF certifies to the USDA National Organic Program standards and CCOF international standards.

Star-K Kosher Certification
Star-K Kosher Certification, overseen by an organization of rabbis, food technologists, and field supervisors since 1947.

American Culinary Federation (ACF) Seal of Approval
The American Culinary Federation offers an ACF Seal of Approval. Labels such as Cargill, Crisco and the Smucker Co. bear the ACF's seal.

Good Housekeeping Seal
Before Good Housekeeping accepts any advertisement from a company, the GH Research Institute reviews its products. Only those that pass the rigorous evaluation are allowed to buy advertising space in the magazine and become eligible for the Good Housekeeping Seal, which involves an even more rigorous evaluation.

Istituto Mediterraneo di Certificazione (IMC)
Mediterranean Institute of Certification

Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
Protected Designation of Origin - EU definition, PDO products are most closely linked to the concept of terroir — a sense of place discernible in the flavor of the food. PDO products must be produced, processed and prepared in a specific region using traditional production methods. The raw materials must also be from the defined area whose name the product bears. The quality or characteristics of the product must be due essentially or exclusively to its place or origin, i.e., climate, the nature of the soil and local know-how.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
Protected Geographical Indication - EU definition PGI is slightly less stringent than PDO, but still demands that the product is produced in the geographical region whose name it bears. The geographical link must occur in at least one stage of production, processing or preparation. It is sufficient for only one of the stages of production to have taken place in the defined area; for instance, the raw materials may come from another region. This allows for a more flexible link to the region and can focus on a specific quality, reputation or other characteristic attributable to that geographical origin.

Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI)
The Safe Quality Food Institute (SQFI) is a division of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), an association that conducts programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education and industry relations on behalf of its 1,500 member companies - food retailers and wholesalers - in the United States and around the world.

Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG)
Traditional Specialty Guaranteed - EU definition, the most lenient of the three is TSG. These products are linked to traditional production methods rather than the region in which they were made. They should be produced either from traditional materials or produced using traditional techniques.

Vegan Logo
Vegan Action's Certified Vegan logo - trademarked in 1999.

The Extra Virgin Alliance Mark of Quality and Authenticity designates an extra virgin olive oil that meets the EVA standard of quality until the Best Before Date.

Check out The Olive Oil Source's database of olive oil competitions all over the world.