Mouse in Olive Oil Cruet Spurs New Push For Ban

Mouse in Olive Oil Cruet Spurs New Push For Ban
(Fictional Image)

The discovery of a live mouse in the olive oil cruet on a Paris restaurant table has prompted renewed calls for a ban on the refillable containers.

Italian singer and TV presenter Jo Squillo claimed she was lunching with friends in the historic Le Marais district during last months’s Paris Fashion Week when the incident occurred. A waiter took the cruet and trapped mouse away but there was no apology, she later told journalists.

“The restaurant owner explained that Paris was full of mice and restaurants could not help such things,” she said.

Italian and Spanish Members of European Parliament on need for cruet ban

Now a group of 22 Italian and Spanish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has renewed a call for a ban on restaurants, hotels and bars serving olive oil in unmarked and refillable oil containers.

“Following the latest very serious incident mentioned above, does the Commission plan to resubmit the regulation intended to introduce the requirement for restaurants and canteens to serve olive oil only in certified and labeled non-refillable, single-use bottles, in order to guarantee consumers’ basic right to know what they are consuming?” they wrote in a recently published written question to the European Commission.

The Commission was close to imposing such a ban but in late May – amid a political storm and media ridicule over the issue – European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş put it on ice, saying it lacked broad consumer support.

He said at the time he would instead meet with representatives of consumers, restaurants, and olive oil producers to seek a better way to “provide better information to consumers about what they’re eating and to avoid any cheating.”

Claims ban would increase transparency, health protection for consumers

The MEPs, mainly from the European People’s Party, also say in their question that the proposal “would have been very useful for combating the phenomenon whereby oil bottles are refilled, which guarantees the consumer neither transparency nor safety with regard to the product.“

“Has the Commission assessed the impact on European consumers of the lack of transparency regarding the actual content of oil cruets, not only in financial terms, but also in terms of health protection, given that the refilled product, as well as generally having inferior organoleptic properties, is of lower quality?”

They also asked if the Commission had considered that the move would have also served to promote European extra-virgin oils, “something repeatedly stressed by the Commission as necessary, thus providing more complete information for a genuine product and guiding consumers more towards European brands.”

European Commission says consultation continuing

In answer to another question on the ban, Cioloş said in July that “over the coming months the Commission will resume its work on clarifying whether action must be taken at European level to meet the needs of all stakeholders in the olive oil sector.”

A spokesperson for Cioloş told Olive Oil Times last week that regarding “the meeting of Commissioner Cioloş with representatives of the olive oil and catering sectors, the Commissioner encouraged all participants to continue their discussions.

The now-postponed draft regulation that included the cruet ban, regulation (EC) No 29/2012 on marketing standards for olive oil, also other proposed measures – generally well-supported in the olive oil sector – such as for clearer label information on olive oil packaging, and tougher penalties for and more checks on mislabeling.

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This article was last updated October 6, 2014 - 7:30 AM (GMT-5)

  • BasilO

    The practice of refilling cruets with inferior oil and even pomace-oil, is prevalent in South Africa.

    This is not restricted to the more ‘affordable cafes or dining establishments but is also practiced in up-market restaurants!

    It is amazing that some restauranteurs would descend to such levels to save a few bucks!

    I now request as a matter of course, an unopened bottle of olive oil and surprisingly there seems to be a sudden unavailability of these….the excuses given are also laughable.

  • Steve Courmanopoulos

    Oh, c’mon! This has to be a hoax! The mouse appears to be alive and not even in distress. I understand that olive oil is good for you, but I don’t think any mammal can breath in it! He would either be dead or thrashing about for dear life (literally). This looks like he was actually behind the cruet or has been Photoshopped into it.

    • Olive Oil Times

      Yes, the image is fictional and we have added a caption to make that more clear. Indeed, we chose an image of a particularly unfazed mouse to avoid having it appear real. Thanks for the comment.

    • Athan Gadanidis

      I do not think this is a photo of the actual mouse. They probably did use photoshop for the article banner… not surprised.. could happen to any restaurant if they left the wide mouthed container open all night.

    • virginia brown

      I thought oot photoshopped out the tiny mouse snorkel.

  • John

    Seriously, this is one single incident. In how many such refillables in the world? A huge overreaction, methinks!
    Far worse is the fact that the cruets do not have covers/lids, are clear glass and are under full lighting – and are thus exposing the oil to air and light – rapidly leading to rancidity.

  • Richard

    Might I add it appears to be an exceptionally healthy mouse, clearly showing the benefits of adhering to a Mediterranean style dietary regimen.

  • Robin Jones

    Typical over the top, attention seeking reaction; how often does this actually happen? Stupid EU and their strangling red tape would be better focussing on more important issues..

  • virginia brown

    The foundational case for tort law in the UK is the 1932 House of Lords decision in Donahue v. Stevenson, about a (decomposed – not even alive) snail in a (brewery-sealed) beer bottle. Stuff happens. Please EU, don’t use this to try and revive that stupid restaurant law. People will laugh even harder the second time.

  • Athan Gadanidis

    As if it is not possible to place a sealed bottle of rancid olive oil on the table. Its easy enough to do it on the store shelves is it not? They would be better off examining the EVOO olive presses and the distributors; the real sources of adulterated olive oil and not the restaurants. Who will benefit from the sealed bottles of EVOO? Educating the consumers is a much better way to deal with this problem. Best way is to bring your own EVOO to a restaurant. I always do,