best natural foods

Olive pomace oil - the lowest grade

I saw olive pomace oil sold at my neighbourhood health store recently and I had to tell the proprietor, who is Chinese educated, what it is.

She was shocked, because the health products distributor had marketed it to her as an olive oil suitable for high heat cooking. She even bought a bottle for herself.

This is the lowest grade olive oil. Do not buy it. According to a Wikipedia entry, olive pomace oil is "seldom sold retail" but used in some commercial applications.

But it seems that the use is quite widespread. First, I saw it sold on websites that market oilive oil and then I saw it at the supermarket in Singapore and later also at specialty foods "gourmet" supermarkets.

My friend's son, who is an Italian restaurant chef, also tells me that his restaurant uses this olive pomace oil for cooking and for making bread. It only uses extra virgin olive oil for salads, drizzling over pasta and serving at the table.

And now I see it sold at a health foods store, of all places. It only shows how little people know about this oil. I myself would not have known if I did not do research for this website.

The word "pomace" might actually sound classy. I have a friend, for example, who knows quite a bit about fine foods. Yet when I asked if he knew about olive pomace oil, his response was: "Why? Is it very good?"

Yet he is one person who cares about food quality and takes the trouble to find out, except that he, too, had not previously read up about olive oils. What about the average consumer who does not know and does not care? They might have heard that olive oil is supposed to be healthy. And these are the people who might end up paying good money for useless, harmful oil pomace oil.

'Leftover' olive oil

Pomace is the leftover pulp after the oil has been extracted by pressing or centrifuge. This still contains a very small amount of oil - about 1 or 2 percent by weight.

While high-grade extra virgin olive oil is often described as "first cold-press", pomace olive is not even "second press". In fact, there is no such thing as second press. The amount of oil contained in pomace is so low that it cannot be extracted simply by pressing. It can only be extracted by the combination of high heat and chemical solvents.

As with all oils extracted by heat and chemicals - and this includes all the commercially-available, non-cold-pressed vegetable oils like corn, safflower, soybean, sunflower, etc - this oil is rancid and very harmful to health. Officially, such oils are said to be still "suitable for human consumption". Well, they don't kill you right away, but they cause degenerative diseases that kill you slowly, making you sick and suffer in the process.

Harmful but costly

There is, however, one major difference between olive pomace oil and other types of poor quality vegetable oils. - the cost. The usual poor quality vegetable oils are usually very cheap, around US$2 per litre, Olive pomace oil, however, might cost six to 10 times as much.

This is the reason why I feel I should write a separte article to highlight this useless oil, so that more consumers might avoid wasting money on it. At a supermarket the other day, I saw a brand of olive oil with the following prices:

  • Extra virgin @ S$8.95 per 500 ml
  • Pure @ S$8.45 per 500 ml
  • Pomace @ S$7.95 per 500 ml

The price differences between top grade (extra virgin), low grade (pure) and very low grade (pomace) is so small that is makes no sense at all to save that small amount of money for an oil that is harmful to health. Yet the fact that is is being sold in a supermarket only means that enough people are buying it. Supermarkets will not stock products that very few people buy.

Likewise, when I saw this low-class oil being marketed on some UK websites, the price difference between extra-virgin and pomace was again minimal.

There is just so much ignorance about olive pomace oil. I have even ever come across websites that praise it for being "healthy" where the oil is described as being far healthier than regular refined cooking oils. Sorry, but pomace oil is the same thing - extracted using heat and chemicals, then refined, deodorised and treated in other ways to hide its bad, rancid smell.

Don't fall for the few cents or pennies of savings. This is extremely poor quality oil that should be avoided at all cost. In fact, if a company sells pomace olive oil, I would be very suspicious about the values of this company and would not even buy higher grade oils from it.

Click here to learn more about olive oil grades, from extra virgin to olive pomace oil.

And click here to understand what qualities to look for in premium olive oils.

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