Europe to Ban Refillable Olive Oil Cruets in Restaurants

Olive oil available to consumers in food-serving outlets in the European Union will have to be packaged in properly-labeled, non-reusable containers from next year, and olive oil labels must indicate the product description and origin in a more visible and legible way.

The measures are among various amendments planned to the E.U. marketing standards for olive oil and designed to better protect and inform consumers while also ensuring the quality and authenticity of olive oils.

They are among changes resulting from European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş’s action plan for the EU olive oil sector, released for discussion last June.

It is hoped they will prevent practices such as restaurants serving patrons olive oil that is cut with cheaper oils, and labels that confuse or mislead consumers.

Nine countries opposed the changes

When the measures were put to the vote on Tuesday at a meeting of the Management Committee for the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets in Brussels, they failed to gain what is known under the E.U.’s weighted voting system as a qualified majority.

According to Brussels sources, there were 195 votes in favor, 94 against and 53 abstentions. One member state was absent from the meeting of the committee, which includes agricultural experts from the EC and the 27 EU member states.

Countries voting in favor included Cyprus, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and Portugal. It’s understood the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania also supported the moves this time having voted against them in an indicative vote in February.

Nine countries voted against the moves – Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden – and Belgium, the United Kingdom and Hungary abstained.

Though the result is classed as a “non-opinion”, the Commission is empowered to adopt the measures and says they’ll be published by mid-June and come into force next January 1.

The amendments had earlier been referred to the World Trade Organization’s Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade, which opened a 60-day comment period expiring on April 20. No comments were received.


Member states will have to carry out checks to ensure compliance with the regulation and set their own “appropriate” national penalties, which must be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.” Products complying with current rules which were made and labeled in, or imported into, the E.U. and in circulation before 2014 can be sold until stocks run out.

What the planned amendments say

Ban on cruets:

– Oils made available to the final consumer in hotels, restaurants and pubs and bars shall be packed in containers equipped with an opening system which cannot be resealed after it has first been opened, together with a protection system preventing them from being reused once the contents indicated on the label have been finished

Clearer label information:

– Mandatory details shall be grouped together within the same field of vision, either on the same label or on several labels attached to the same container, or directly on the container. The characters in the text must be equal to or greater than 2 mm, if the nominal volume of the container is equal to or less than 25 cl; 3 mm, if the nominal volume of the container is greater than 25 cl but equal to or less than 100 cl; 4 mm, if the nominal volume of the container is greater than 100 cl.

For details of these and other changes planned, see the amendments to Regulation (EU) No 29/2012 on marketing standards for olive oil.

Also see Europe Closer to Banning Refillable Olive Oil Cruets in Restaurants

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This article was last updated December 22, 2014 - 6:24 PM (GMT-5)

  • tomthumb015

    Typical, the the Brussels eurocrats got nothing better to do than just pass more regulations?

    • Julie

      That seems to be a common reaction right now but knowing how often the olive oil is cut with sunflower or other cheaper oils here (in corner bars/cafés, for instance), I think the decanter ban has merit. Just hope they’re are replaced with small bottles and that this doesn’t result in more waste.

      • Gregor Christiaans

        I agree, but stop this in the beginning of the olive oil chain. Not at the end, the restaurant sector.

  • anglo saxon

    Europe is over run with illegal migrants, the economy is in tatters, youth unemployment at levels that will probably lead to revolution yet all the EU can do is waste time on rubbish like this. Is this really what the EU should spend our time and money on? Disgraceful!

  • petrus

    What about shops which sell repacked oliveoil in there own labeled bottles ?…. Or from tap ?

  • Gregor Christiaans

    I fully understand and agree with the idea behind the law: consumer should be well informed about the oil on the table.

    As an olive oil wholesaler i discussed this issue with some of my customers (restaurant owners/chefs). By the way, this is the situation in The Netherlands.

    2 things can happen:

    1) more smaller bottles/plastics (portion pack) meaning higher costs for the restaurants and more waste (i can assure you that the crisis affects restaurants too, so higher costs will be non discussable).

    2) no olive oil on the tables anymore. This will happen. back to butter (there goes the effort to teach the consumer about healthy olive oil instead of butter and others).

    Other things they mentioned: what happens with aioli or a dressing with olive oil that is served as a starter with bread or next to a salad dish? should all ingredients be also in portion pack? how about the salt and pepper? the bread? etcetera.

    And what if the olive oil is on a plate next to the dish as a garnish? is that allowed? what if the garnish is put in a small bowl on the plate? and if the bowl is next to the plate (that is not allowed in the new law).

    Next to this, it is impossible to check this.

    The EU commissioner forgets one issue: if a restaurant serves a product (doesnt matter what, olive oil, wine, bread) that is not what he says it is, the costumer will not return. Trust me, he doesn’t do it. I talked to a lot of chefs and restaurant owners and they think it is really a ( I’ll put it mildly) dumb law enforced on them. The controlling of fraud should be in the whole chain starting with producers, exporters, wholesalers. And even here there is a lack of control. Don’t give the restaurants an extra law and extra time/effort/costs to do this.

    Again, i fully agree with the fact that fraud in olive oil should be banned. it’s outrageous what happens some time.

    whats next? “Waiter i would like to order the beef. Could you show me the cow at the table?”

    Gregor Christiaans


    The Netherlands