Expeller Pressed vs. Non-GMO: these two traits are interrelated and a common point of discussion. Is expeller pressed oil automatically non-GMO? Is all non-GMO automatically expeller pressed? To help with a bit of the confusion we will break down some helpful information to find out truly whether or not it your oil is just expeller pressed or non-GMO — and what the difference really is.
The two terms are completely independent of each other, however, they are often confused because of the frequency of their use together in natural oil descriptions today.
To start, let’s define each trait and then explain why they are at times confused. Then lastly, we will review the different oils that are either non-GMO, expeller pressed or both.
What Does Expeller Pressed Mean?
The term expeller pressed refers to how the oil is made. It has to do with how the oil is extracted from the seed. This process is done by squeezing the oil out of the seed using intense force. By doing this physical pressing, there is no chemical extraction like solvents.
Expeller pressing naturally involves some heat during the squeezing process; it comes into play either by being brought up to temperature or simply because of the friction of the pressing process. Therefore, expeller pressing is similar — but not the exact same — as what is called “first cold pressed”. First cold pressed is a term which describes olive oil that is squeezed or spun out of the olive fruit — but it cannot be heated in any way, including during a secondary refining process. However, there are gourmet cold-pressed versions of oils such as canola, sunflower, soybean and much more. But you would have to look pretty hard to find them in manufacturing or even a wholesale setting as they are much rarer than other refined oils.
What Does Non-GMO Mean?
The term non-GMO (non-genetically modified organisms) refers to the type of seed that the oil is coming from: is this a seed that has been grown using genetic modification or not?
The following articles offer more information on GMOs in general and in relation to oil.
Why Are The Terms Often Confused?
Non-GMO oils are often expeller pressed so people see these two terms routinely listed together. This is common because most of the consumers that are looking for non-GMO food products are looking for healthy natural food and are more likely to be drawn to an ingredient that is also expeller pressed.
It isn't always the case that they are found together so it's important to fully understand every little detail. These examples below of the different way the traits can be found apart or together.
Real Life Examples
Non-GMO Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
Almost all the non-GMO canola oil that exists today is expeller pressed oil. That is due to the few mills that dominate the non-GMO canola market are expeller pressing mills. In the natural food market these two types of oil traits are often found together.
Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
Yes there is in fact, an expeller pressed canola that is not non-GMO. It is a conventional GMO product but has been expelled in one of the expeller pressing mills. Much more rare product on the market, however it absolutely exists.
Non-GMO Soybean Oil
It's also possible to have an oil that is non-GMO but not expeller pressed. In fact, the most readily available non-GMO soybean oil is a solvent expelled oil. This oil is made from the non-GMO seed but is extracted using hexane.
It’s also possible to have an expeller pressed non-GMO soybean oil, so you have to source carefully based on exactly what you are looking for!