There are three related purposes of the California Olive Oil Council (COOC) Seal Certification Program:
- To provide producers and marketers with a standardized method of grading their 100% California olive oil as extra virgin.
- To provide producers and marketers who meet the certification standard with a means of distinguishing their products in the marketplace.
- To provide consumers and retailers with assurance that the oil they purchase is in fact extra virgin grade.
Overview of the Certification Process
To gain COOC certification, an oil must comply with requirements of both a chemical analysis and a sensory evaluation. COOC member producers must undertake this process following every harvest to ensure their oil meets the criteria to be considered extra virgin grade. Additionally, the Seal Certification Program guarantees traceability. Through participation in the program, an oil is verified to be from the most recent harvest and produced only from olives grown in California.
Standards & Requirements
All COOC members who produce or label an oil as extra virgin must comply with the COOC Standards & Requirements annually under the Seal Certification Program. Chemistry testing by an approved laboratory is required as a first screen to determine if an oil is extra virgin. Levels for the required chemistry testing are outlined below, which are among the strictest requirements worldwide.
Sensory Analysis: The COOC Taste Panel
After proof of an oil’s chemical requirements has been verified, the oil then must undergo a sensory analysis. The COOC Taste Panel samples each oil in a blind settings to ascertain that the oil qualifies as free of defects, an important requirement in achieving extra virgin grade.
All COOC Taste Panel members have undergone intensive training. The panel meets at least twice each month for the dual purpose of screening oils for COOC Certification as well as for continual training. The panel participates in six exams annually to maintain its calibration with international standards and is recognized as an accredited panel by the American Oil Chemists Society.
An oil only qualifies to display the COOC Seal once it has met with both criteria. Seal Certification is a process which is ongoing following every harvest. View our list of certified oils for the most recent harvest to ensure you are using the freshest, most delicious olive oil available.
If you are an olive oil producer and you are interested in submitting your oil to earn the COOC Seal, first you must become a member.