Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil Best Imported Oil

July 29th, 2010 · 60 Comments

If you shop at Costco and use a fair amount of olive oil, you have probably picked up the Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Or at least considered it.  But did you ever wonder how it stacks up against other extra virgin olive oils that are on the market?  And what is so special about extra virgin olive oil anyway?  Recently, results from a UC Davis study were released regarding the standards of extra virgin olive oils that are on the market in the US.  After looking at the results, it’s clear that the Kirkland Signature extra virgin olive oil is not only a great bargain price-wise, but is also some of the best quality olive oil on the market in the US.

But before I get to the exciting bit, I’ll fill you in on a bit of olive oil information.  Currently, the US is the third largest market for olive oil with Americans consuming more than 75 million gallons last year.  That figure represents a doubling in US consumption over the last decade.  As a result of this growing level of consumption, I’m sure, the USDA has decided that it is time to start getting a little more structured about what can be sold as ‘extra virgin’ vs. ‘virgin’ olive oil.  So, starting in the fall, the USDA will roll out new, voluntary, labeling standards for olive oils sold in the US.  This is great for consumers because it means that companies will have to start being more up front about the acidity levels of their oils, as well as the process they used to extract the oil from the olives.  More knowledge about what you’re eating is always good, right?

So, for all of us that are wondering, the different classifications of oil are based on the production method, acidity levels, and the taste.  The less mechanical or chemical intervention, as well as the lower the acidity level, the better the quality of the oil.  Here’s a how the IOOC (the International Olive Oil Council, not something the US belongs to for some reason, but governs the standards for the rest of the world) quality standards for retail olive oil labels, and most likely what you’ll see in the stores:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, contains no more than 0.8% acidity, and is judged to have a superior taste. Extra Virgin olive oil accounts for less than 10% of oil in many producing countries. It is used on salads, added at the table to soups and stews and for dipping.
  • Virgin olive oil comes from virgin oil production only, has an acidity less than 2%, and is judged to have a good taste.
  • Pure olive oil. Oils labeled as Pure olive oil or Olive oil are usually a blend of refined and virgin production oil.
  • Olive oil is a blend of virgin and refined production oil, of no more than 1.5% acidity. It commonly lacks a strong flavor.
  • Olive pomace oil is refined pomace olive oil often blended with some virgin oil. It is fit for consumption, but may not be described simply asolive oil. It has a more neutral flavor than pure or virgin olive oil, making it unfashionable among connoisseurs; however, it has the same fat composition as regular olive oil, rendering it the same health benefits. It also has a high smoke point, and thus is widely used in restauraunts as well as home cooking in some countries.
  • Lampante oil is olive oil not suitable as food; lampante comes from olive oil’s long-standing use in oil-burning lamps. Lampante oil is mostly used in the industrial market.
  • Refined olive oil is the olive oil obtained from virgin olive oils by refining methods that do not lead to alterations in the initial glyceridic structure. It has a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, of not more than 0.3 grams per 100 grams (0.3%) and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category in this standard. This is obtained by refining virgin olive oils with a high acidity level and/or organoleptic defects that are eliminated after refining. Over 50% of the oil produced in the Mediterranean area is of such poor quality that it must be refined to produce an edible product. Note that no solvents have been used to extract the oil, but it has been refined with the use of charcoal and other chemical and physical filters. An obsolete equivalent is “pure olive oil”.

So, now that you know all that, we can finally get down to the test results from the UC Davis testing.  The team from UCD tested 19 different brands: 14 imported and five California made.  All bottles were purchased in March at supermarkets or big box stores in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles counties. Testing was conducted on three bottles of each brand from each location.  The team worked with Australian olive experts and used international standards for evaluating extra virgin olive oil.  All of the oils were evaluated both by chemistry and a panel of trained tasters.

Of the imports, only Kirkland Signature Organic passed all the extra-virgin standards with samples from all three locations. Samples of Bertolli, Pompeian, Carapelli, Mezzetta and Mazola failed from all locations.  Of the California-made brands tested, all bottles of Corto Olive, California Olive Ranch, McEvoy Ranch Organic and Lucero met the extra-virgin criteria.   Here’s a listing of all olive oils tested and how many of their samples passed:

Kirkland Signature Olive OIl

Kirkland Signature Olive OIl

Imported Olive Oils:

  • Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.
  • Great Value 100 percent Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One of three samples failed.
  • Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One of three samples failed.
  • Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two out of three samples failed.
  • Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.
  • Newman’s Own Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.
  • Rachael Ray Extra Tasty Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.
  • Safeway Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.
  • 365 Everyday Value 100 percent Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Two of three samples failed.
  • Bertolli Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.
  • Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.
  • Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.
  • Mezzetta Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.
  • Mazola Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Three of three samples failed.

Domestic Olive Oils:

  • Corto Olive Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.
  • California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.
  • McEvoy Ranch Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.
  • Lucero (Ascolano) Extra Virgin Olive Oil: All samples passed.
  • Bariani Olive Oil Extra Virgin Olive Oil: One of two samples failed.
the UCD research team found that 69 percent of the imported oils sampled failed to meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin olive oil. By comparison, only 10 percent of the California-produced oils in the test failed to meet those standards.
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The UCD research team found that 69 percent of the imported oils sampled failed to meet internationally accepted standards for extra virgin olive oil. By comparison, only 10 percent of the California-produced oils in the test failed to meet those standards.  And again, I’ll reiterate that of the imported olive oils, only the Kirkland Signature Organic had all of its samples pass the tests.  The reasons that the oils might not have met the extra-virgin standards are due to oxidation, adulteration with cheaper refined olive oil or poor-quality oils made from damaged and overripe olives, processing flaws or improper oil storage.

So, the result of this is that if you are going to buy an imported extra virgin olive oil, you really should be shopping at Costco and buying the Kirkland Signature brand.  Otherwise, you’re just not getting the best quality you could (and you’re probably paying too much to boot).

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60 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 WilliamGmcG // 2017.03.04 at 1:13 pm

    I’m confused about which Kirkland olive oil was tested. The article refers to and the picture shows Kirkland Signature Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but the results reference Kirkland Signature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

    These are 2 different products at my store. Which is the one UCD tested?

  2. 2 Julio Hoffmann // 2016.11.19 at 6:16 pm

    You are wrong, a good fresh olive oil should never make your thought burn when swallow.
    If the olive oil makes your trough burn wen swallow it is defensively oxidized.
    This analysis comes from experts. you may want to read more about this subject.

  3. 3 Julio Hoffmann // 2016.11.13 at 12:28 pm

    To all Olive Oil users:
    This is a good way to check if the olive oil that you are buying is not oxidase. (Oxidation in olive oil comes when it is to old, it is exposed to sun light or simple bad process)
    Wen you buy a bottle of olive oil, take it home, open the bottle, and take a full table spoon of it and swallow it, if you feel a burning sensation in your trough the olive oil is oxidized, immediately take the bottle back to the store and return it, get you money back.
    Please tell every one about this.
    One of the reason as to way people are getting rip toff, is because people do not complain. Lets make an effort to stop this illegal fraudulent food possessor thieves.

    • 4 Micko // 2016.11.19 at 2:58 pm

      Julio, sorry but you are incorrect. According to the well known and celebrated book,”Extra Virginity,” the sign of a true extra virgin oil is a grassy taste with an astringent (or slight burn, spicy tingly) in the back of your throat.

      Any olive oil will solidify in a refrigerator and turn cloudy. Returning it to room temperature will restore fluidity and color.

      Not to say that some costco brands are less than desired, but think I question your authenticity.

  4. 5 michael // 2016.11.12 at 5:05 pm

    except in Mexico there olive oil has no olive oil in it. And you can’t get the organic. I just went to cosco in cancun and bought their signature olive oil which is pretty good in California, but the organic is way better. In Mexico near the Cancun area getting real olive oil is very, very diffiicult

  5. 6 Squirell // 2016.10.02 at 5:17 pm

    I have loved California Olive Ranch olive oils since I tasted them HOWEVER, Costco is now selling a blend
    named “Miller’s Blend”. I was terribly excited to see this in the store in the original glass bottles so I bought a BUNCH.
    Now that I am using it I notice it’s not as smooth as the other blends and it’s a little bitter. The most concerning factor though
    is that it is much thinner than the California Olive Ranch oils that I get from the regular grocery store so I put it to the test
    and refrigerated it to see if it would solidify and it FAILED. So, what’s the story on this blend that is marked as EVOO and even
    has the seal that is is legit?

  6. 7 Julio Hoffmann // 2016.07.22 at 4:55 pm

    My final question es:
    Where is the FDA in all of this. Is the FDA investigating, and taking any type of action.
    Was the FDA created to protect the consumer, or are they really protecting the dishonest oil producers, and sellers?

  7. 8 Maria A. Rogles // 2016.06.03 at 3:26 pm

    How much did you get paid for these lies…??? I am extremely allergic to soy products… it is mixed with soy, and I know it because I had an allergic reaction!!!

  8. 9 Susan L // 2016.03.09 at 9:59 am

    I am looking for an Olive Oil that is Quality and Reasonably Priced as we use it as part of our Naturally Northwoods Go Away Tick and Mosquito Spray. We use high quality essential oils that I do not want to contradict with a toxic Olive Oil. Can anyone advise as we need to buy many many gallons? 🙂

    • 10 Tlyna // 2016.03.09 at 11:08 am

      California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I buy it at Walmart and a few other stores. It is not one of the more expensive products, tastes good and is good for cooking with. I also use it to make a skin moisturizing cream.

  9. 11 casey // 2016.02.22 at 7:41 pm

    I am perplexed at your link to Costco Connection. The display quality is so poor that even at 100x magnification, text still can not be read. What is the point of including this link?

    • 12 Kris // 2016.07.18 at 7:19 pm

      Wiemy… Budujemy piramidÄ™ z żelaza, diamentu, szmaragdu lub zÅ‚ota, na czubek ten nowy blok, czekamy 4 sekundy i wrzucamy tam diament/sztabkÄ™ zÅ‚ota/sztabkÄ™ żzarza/semaalgd, wybieramy efekt i klikamy ok.

    • 13 cheap car insurancwe // 2016.10.26 at 7:21 am

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    • 14 http://www./ // 2016.11.13 at 2:42 pm

      La*Incognita sez to grinder"Go ahead and name them. And tell my why you think whom ever, or what ever isn't doing such already."Yeah, I'll wait for him to do it as well.Especially since Wyclef Jean has already initiated a major relief effort with his website.I wonder if Grinder challenged prominent Asian-Americans to fund a relief effort for the victims of the SE Asia tsunami in 2005?This guy's hatred and resentment of black people is pathological.

    • 15 quote express // 2017.04.11 at 4:03 pm

      Really fun once you got it. Never heard of Oesophageal but luckily it was pretty much a lock by the time i hit that one so i was looking for it. If not for the crazy week 1 i’d have had a perfect month. There’s always next month. Thanks, Matt!

  10. 16 Julio Hoffmann // 2016.01.26 at 10:04 pm

    Is Costco involved in the cover up of the illegal , dirty and unfair practice of selling the adulterated Kirkland olive oil.
    How are you going to compensate your customers like my self ho have trusted you for years.
    Please respond.

  11. 17 Julio Hoffmann // 2016.01.26 at 9:59 pm

    Concern about the resent reports by Sixty Minutes television program about adulterated olive oils:
    For years now, we have being buying the Costco Kirkland brand olive oil trusting that we were buying a pure and healthy product.
    Now that the report is out, we find out of the unfair, dishonest, and illegal practice of you and of your suppliers. It make us wonder if Costco is not also involved in the cover up of this fraudulent illegally.
    My question to Costco is: What are you planing to do about this dilemma, and how are you willing to compensate the faithful costumers like my self that you have betrayed so unscrupulously?
    I look forward to receive your comments.
    I will like to hear the comments of others hum had the same experience, and together we can look onto the possibility of starting a legal lawsuit against the responsible parties in this dirty steal.

  12. 18 Bill // 2015.09.02 at 8:15 am

    There was another Italian brand missing from this list. Lucini also passed the tests. They are now owned by California Olive Ranch. For those cooking with EVOO, I would recommend stopping that practice. The compound Oleocanthal, which has almost magical properties, can be damaged by heat.

  13. 19 Cheryl // 2014.12.07 at 10:01 pm

    The olive oil is great but the bottles are very difficult to open

  14. 20 Trish // 2014.10.08 at 10:30 am

    Great to know. Is it all true what is said about Kirkland olive oil here. Also can it be used by my entire family for drinking as well as on skin. From our toddler, teenagers and parents?

  15. 21 San Jose // 2014.02.07 at 3:30 am

    I am in Calif., and have been using Costco’s USDA Certified Organic EVOO since before the study was done. The packaging is a dark-green plastic bottle sold as a two 2-liter bottle pack.

    The label says “Kirkland Signature” at the top, has the USDA Organic seal underneath the KS logo at the top-right; it says “Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil” underneath a drawing of an olive branch, and beneath that it says “First Cold Pressed.” On the back it says “Packed in Italy with select oils from Italy, Portugal and Spain. Certified Organic by I.C.E.A.”

    It doesn’t smoke when I stir-fry on high heat on my electric stove, and it does turn solid in my refrigerator. I like Trader Joe’s brand also (BIG fan of TJ’s), but find the convenience of having lots and lots on hand to be the tipping point.

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