`E.U. Committee Favors Increased Olive Oil Controls


E.U. Committee Favors More Olive Oil Controls

Feb. 11, 2013
Julie Butler

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New reg­u­la­tions designed to pre­vent and detect olive oil fraud in the Euro­pean Union appear likely to go ahead after votes taken by a key com­mit­tee in Brus­sels last week.

As reported in Olive Oil Times last month, EU mem­ber states would have to do at least one tar­geted check annu­ally per thou­sand tons of olive oil mar­keted in them and send more rig­or­ous reports to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion (EC) on their test­ing, and any per­son or entity hold­ing bulk olive oil would have to keep a reg­is­ter track­ing stock entry and with­drawal, under just some of the mea­sures pro­posed.

After months of debate, the changes won major­ity sup­port in a Feb­ru­ary 6 vote by the Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee for the Com­mon Organ­i­sa­tion of Agri­cul­tural Mar­kets, which includes agri­cul­tural experts from the EC and the 27 EU mem­ber states.

How­ever because the yes vote was not big enough to be what is called a qual­i­fied major­ity, the draft amend­ments (to EU reg­u­la­tion 2568/91 on olive oil char­ac­ter­is­tics and analy­sis meth­ods) must now undergo a writ­ten process of adop­tion by the EC, an EC Agri­cul­ture spokesper­son said.


Bet­ter pro­tec­tion and infor­ma­tion for con­sumers

In an indica­tive vote, the Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee also sup­ported a sep­a­rate group of mea­sures designed to bet­ter pro­tect and inform con­sumers in the EU, the world’s biggest pro­ducer, con­sumer and exporter of olive oil.

Those mea­sures, con­tained in draft amend­ments to the EU olive oil mar­ket­ing stan­dard (reg­u­la­tion 29/2012), include stricter label­ing rules to ensure the cat­e­gory and ori­gin of an olive oil is promi­nent and easy to read on pack­ag­ing.

Another pro­vi­sion would effec­tively ban refill­able olive oil cruets from restau­rant tables in the EU.

This set of amend­ments will now be sent to the Geneva-based World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion Com­mit­tee on Tech­ni­cal Bar­ri­ers to Trade, which will have 60 days in which to share its com­ments, if any, after which the Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee will hold a for­mal vote.

Bol­ster­ing the image of EU olive oil

The new mea­sures — gen­er­ally intended to apply from Jan­u­ary 1 — are designed to rein­force the posi­tion of the EU olive oil sec­tor in the Euro­pean and global mar­kets.”

The image of olive oil is a major asset that must be pro­tected and one that is closely linked to qual­ity and com­pli­ance,” the spokesper­son said.

The changes are part of Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Agri­cul­ture Dacian Cioloş’s action plan for the EU olive oil sec­tor, released for dis­cus­sion in June.

Absent: changes to chem­i­cal para­me­ters

Under short term action to pro­tect the qual­ity and authen­tic­ity of vir­gin oils, the Cioloş plan said the Inter­na­tional Olive Coun­cil (IOC) would be asked to expe­dite its work on cer­tain chem­i­cal para­me­ters.

It referred to reduc­ing the lim­its for stig­mas­ta­di­enes and alkyl esters, defin­i­tive adop­tion of the global method for the detec­tion of oils other than olive oils, and adop­tion of a diglyc­erides and triglyc­erides test.

Asked why such changes — keenly awaited by some in the sec­tor — were not in the draft amend­ments, the spokesper­son said the EC was await­ing fur­ther response from the IOC.

A lack of quo­rum at the 100th ses­sion of the IOC Coun­cil of Mem­bers last Novem­ber pre­vented the adop­tion of reports on these issues pre­pared by rel­e­vant IOC work­ing groups.

EC doc­u­ments show a clos­ing sit­ting for that ses­sion of the Coun­cil of Mem­bers had been sched­uled for Feb­ru­ary 25 – 26 but the IOC said on Fri­day that there was cur­rently no date set for the meet­ing.

IOC ten­der can­celed

In Sep­tem­ber, the IOC called for ten­ders for an inter­na­tional study of the elas­tic­ity of demand for olive oil to be sub­mit­ted by Novem­ber 5. But late last month it announced that the call for ten­ders had been can­celed. Asked for the rea­sons, the IOC told Olive Oil Times they were of a tech­ni­cal nature and would be explained to IOC mem­bers at their next meet­ing, yet to be sched­uled.

In late Octo­ber, the IOC also can­celed its Best Olive Arti­cle Com­pe­ti­tion” — car­ry­ing a €5,000 prize — after the Octo­ber 1 entry dead­line, say­ing it did not receive enough entries for it to go ahead.

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