Standard Article

Olive Oil

  1. David Firestone

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047167849X.bio029

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

How to Cite

Firestone, D. 2005. Olive Oil. Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products. 2:7.

Author Information

  1. United States Food and Drug Administration, Washington, DC

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Olive oil, an important component in the diet of Mediterranean people, is obtained by mechanical extraction from the fruit of Olea europaea L tree, which belongs to the Olive family. It comprises 400 species and thrives in temperate and tropical climates. Olives appeared in Israel about 45,000 years ago and olive farming and the olive oil industry appear to have been well established throughout the region bordering the Mediterranean in the middle and late Bronze age. Olive growing prospered until the fifth century AD when the Roman Empire was invaded from the north. In 1709, a new age of olive farming began when new orchards were planted in Europe to replace those destroyed by a deep cold spell. Olive farming reached a peak in the first half of the nineteenth century.

Most of the world’s olive trees grow in the Mediterranean Basin. Ripe olives contain a number of components, including water, oil, sugars, proteins, organic acids, and cellulose. Harvesting of the olives is discussed. Care must be taken not to damage the fruit. Damage could affect the taste of the oil and would not be acceptable for virgin oil and would have to be refined. Three systems are used for mechanical extraction of oil from the olive fruit: pressure processing; centrifugation; and adhesion and filtering. Refining of olive oil is carried out by alkali refining or physical refining. Pomace oil refining is also detailed.

Olive oil components and the analysis of these components are given. World production and consumption data are given.


  • olive oil;
  • pomace oil;
  • refining, extraction technology;
  • glycerides;
  • fatty acids;
  • definitions;
  • virgin olive oil;
  • quality parameters