I read that extra virgin and regular olive oil are different in the way they are processed. For example, regular olive oil can contain chemicals e.g. pesticides, but extra virgin will not?

Extra virgin also comes in cheaper and expensive brands for example fillipo Berio is a few pounds but it’s apparently genuine.

Does this mean the fillipo Berio does not contain chemicals and why are the other olive oil brands 4 times the price?

  • 1
    You're confusing several different aspects of oil preparation. Any of them can 'contain chemicals' unless they are certified Organic. This has nothing to do with whether it's first cold press or refined. Prices on olive oil can be like wine - if it's a blend, it's cheap, it it's 'single grove' it's expensive. The actual quality may not be any different. Organic certification is also expensive to achieve & to maintain, which also affects the price.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9, 2021 at 18:22
  • 2
    All olive oil contains chemicals. It's made of them. Mar 10, 2021 at 1:37
  • "Organic food" does in fact use chemical pesticides, and other chemicals, but from a restricted range. That also means they use a heck of a lot more chemicals per acre, like 3 to 20 times as much, depending on the pesticide. Of course by definition you can't make an apple to apples comparison of the impact of significantly different chemicals. Oct 16, 2022 at 18:58

1 Answer 1


"Virgin" olive oil is mechanically pressed. "Extra virgin" olive oil additionally satisfies basic quality criteria, and is generally the first oil pressed from a batch of olives. The terms have nothing to do with pesticides or "chemicals".

Extra virgin olive oils vary widely, both in overall "quality" and actual attributes. Adulteration is common; something labeled as "extra virgin olive oil" may have non-extra-virgin olive oil added to it. It may have non-olive oil added to it. (My understanding is that walnut oil is a common adulterant.)

There's a lot of factors influencing price, including actual quality, brand recognition, and how nice the label looks. A more expensive olive oil is not necessarily higher quality. If there's a brand that's four times the price, that simply means that the store thinks people might pay that much for it. (Perhaps simply because people assume that price equals quality.)

Tetsujin's comparison to wine is a good one. There are reviews of olive oil out there, but they'll likely concentrate on really expensive olive oils, and probably not the ones available in your local shop. If you want a Decently Good Olive Oil, go with a well-known brand (they're less likely to be adulterated). If you want "top shelf" olive oil, go to a specialty store, pick something that looks tasty, and hope for the best. In either case, get a small bottle: It'll be fresher by the time you're done with it, and if it turns out not to be amazing, you won't have spent as much on it.

  • +1 Thanks for turning this into a proper answer - I couldn't quite make my comment into one. Personally, I buy the supermarket's own-brand extra virgin & trust to their judgement & quality-sourcing, or processed just for frying. I have a friend who has her own family olive groves in Greece, recently qualified as organic. When she comes to the UK she brings gallon bottles with her [or she did before we left the EU, I'm not sure how that will work in future:\ Money couldn't translate how good that tastes.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 9, 2021 at 19:01
  • Please keep in mind that "extra virgin" olive oil is THE MOST conterfeited food product worldwide. So very cheap "extra virgin" olive oil might just as well be cheap vegetable oil with green food coloring or even rancid low quality olive oil with some additives to hide the rancidness.
    – Elmy
    Mar 10, 2021 at 11:00

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