Specific quality designations are employed for olive oil just as they are for wine, in order to ensure that a product is manufactured in a specific geographical area according to certain rules; similar certified labels also exist for traditional Italian food products. Anyone with a basic familiarity of wine has probably heard acronyms such as DOC or DOCG. A similar abbreviation also exists for food products, DOP (“Denominazione di origine protetta” – meaning Protected Designation of Origin). This ensures that a product is entirely produced in a given territory, from the origin of its raw materials through to the final production process.
DOP certified extra virgin olive oil is a real guarantee, excluding fraud and counterfeiting, of the product quality. National DOP olive oil will in fact be produced from olives grown and processed in a given area.
The DOP certification, as with DOC for wine, also determines the specific types of olives that may be used and are generally native varieties, the best adapted to the specific area, the soil and the microclimate. Italy has the largest amount of olive varieties in the world, over 700, each with its own individual characteristics, and the taste best matching the distinctive flavours of the local cuisine.
These quality specifications also ensure that the olive oil is produced within the strict parameters as decided by the Consortia who also carry out periodic testing to ensure that all abide by the rules.