According to European legislation, extra virgin is the top grade of olive oils. It has a superior level of health properties and flavour compared to virgin and refined olive oils. Mediterranean countries still produce more than 85% of olive oil globally, but the constant increase of demand for extra virgin olive oil has led to new cultivation and production in other areas of the world, including California, Australia, China, South Africa and South America. At the same time, olive oil s sensory properties and health benefits are increasingly attracting the attention and interest of nutritionists, food processors, manufacturers and food services. Progress and invation in olive cultivation, harvesting and milling techlogies as well as in oil handling, storage and selling conditions make it possible to achieve even higher quality levels than those stipulated for extra virgin oils. As a consequence, a new segment excellent extra virgin olive oils is increasingly attracting the attention of the market and earning consumers preference. The Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Handbook provides a complete account of olive oil s composition, health properties, quality, and the legal standards surrounding its production. The book is divided into convenient sections focusing on extra virgin olive oil as a product, the process by which it is made, and the process control system through which its quality is assured. An appendix presents a series of tables and graphs with useful data, including conversion factors, and the chemical and physical characteristics of olive oil. This book is aimed at people involved in the industrial production as well as in the marketing and use of extra virgin olive oil who are looking for practical information, which avoids overly academic language, but which is still scientifically and technically sound. The main purpose of the handbook is to guide operators involved in the extra virgin olive oil chain in making the most appropriate decisions about product quality and operating conditions in the production and distribution processes. To these groups, the most important questions are practical ones of why, how, how often, how much will it cost, and so on. The Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Handbook will provide the right answers to these key practical considerations, in a simple, clear yet precise and up-to-date way.
Claudio Peri is professor emeritus in Food Science and Technology at the University of Milan, Italy, and President of the Centre for Quality Studies of the Academy of Georgofili, Florence, Italy.