EU Committee Approves Elimination of 18-Month Shelf-Life on EVOO Labels

The Senate’s EU Policies Committee voted to implement a law that provides for the controversial elimination of the 18-month shelf-life on the label of extra virgin olive oil and indications of the origin.

Apr. 16, 2016
By Ylenia Granitto

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The Senate’s EU Policies Committee voted to imple­ment the EU law that pro­vides for the elim­i­na­tion of the 18-month of shelf-life limit on labels of extra vir­gin olive oil and indi­ca­tions of the ori­gin.

Article 1 of European law 2015 pro­vides for the option to bot­tle extra vir­gin with an expi­ra­tion longer than 18 months.

The 18-month limit is now required by an Italian law, which is more rigid than the Community leg­is­la­tion, but cer­tainly more favor­able to the preser­va­tion of qual­ity olive oil and to safe­guard the con­sumer.

The mea­sure, which imple­ments, among other things, the European Union Directive on the pro­vi­sion of food infor­ma­tion to con­sumers, aims to amend arti­cle 7 of the law 9/2013 which states: The min­i­mum stor­age period within which vir­gin olive oils retain their spe­cific prop­er­ties when in proper usage con­di­tions, may not exceed eigh­teen months from the date of bot­tling.”

The approval of a mea­sure that removes the shelf life limit of extra vir­gin olive oil facil­i­tates the dis­posal of old olive oil and denies an impor­tant safe­guard for the con­sumer,” claimed the pres­i­dent of Coldiretti Roberto Moncalvo. It is a mis­take that endan­gers the qual­ity in Italy.”

Despite numer­ous stud­ies have shown that over time EVOO mod­i­fies its fea­tures, Italian law seems to be too rigid for the EU, which ordered the removal of the limit.

Italy risks the open­ing of an infringe­ment pro­ce­dure. With the imple­men­ta­tion of the EU guide­lines, the expi­ra­tion date will be decided freely at the dis­cre­tion of bot­tlers.

This amounts to the dele­tion of the expi­ra­tion date since every­one can decide the date based on his own com­mer­cial inter­ests,” Coldiretti urged. There is an obvi­ous risk that some­one will take advan­tage of it.”

The 2015 European law 2015 also intends to sup­press the mea­sures which pro­vide for the indi­ca­tion of the ori­gin of blends of olive oils with dif­fer­ent and more notice­able chro­matic rel­e­vance than the back­ground color, com­pared to the other indi­ca­tions and descrip­tions, to the fur­ther detri­ment to qual­ity and con­sumers, accord­ing to the main part of the Italian olive sec­tor.

Some man­u­fac­tur­ers are rebelling and decided to per­sist to indi­cate the 18-month shelf-life limit on labels of their extra vir­gin olive oils. Among these, the farm­ers from Marche region will con­tinue to state it on their bot­tles. We will con­tinue to ensure the qual­ity of our prod­ucts to con­sumers,” affirmed the pres­i­dent of Coldiretti Marche, Tommaso Di Sante.

The vote is for­mally not defin­i­tive since the Senate has the last word on the deci­sion, but there is not much chance to over­turn the gov­ern­men­t’s direc­tion about the EU man­dates.


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