`Europe's Olive Oil 'Action Plan' Still on Drawing Board - Olive Oil Times

Europe's Olive Oil 'Action Plan' Still on Drawing Board

Aug. 27, 2012
Julie Butler

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Final details of the European Commission’s olive oil action plan may not be avail­able until the end of September, accord­ing to sources close to European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş.

It’s under­stood the EC is cur­rently draft­ing rel­e­vant leg­isla­tive reforms while con­sul­ta­tion con­tin­ues with EU coun­tries over the plan.

Cioloş released a paper with gen­eral pro­pos­als back in June, say­ing he hoped con­crete changes would be agreed on by the end of July, fol­low­ing the coun­tries’ feed­back, but the defin­i­tive plan has yet to fol­low.

A new cat­e­gory of olive oil, bet­ter fraud detec­tion and deter­rence, and increas­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness were among the mea­sures he had floated to help Europe’s ail­ing olive oil sec­tor.

Wax con­tent and myris­tic acid among test­ing changes sought

At the International Olive Council meet­ing in Buenos Aires last month, the EU rep­re­sen­ta­tive renewed a call in the draft plan for the IOC to expe­dite its work on changes to olive oil test­ing. According to the representative’s orig­i­nal state­ment in French — a copy of which has been obtained by Olive Oil Times — the desired changes are:

  • low­er­ing the limit for the deter­mi­na­tion of stig­mas­ta­di­enes, to improve the detec­tion of mix­tures of vir­gin olive oils with refined oils
  • adop­tion of the global method’ for the detec­tion of extra­ne­ous oils in olive oils·
  • a reduced limit for alkyl esters, to exclude lower qual­ity oils that have been deodor­ized
  • revi­sion of the cal­cu­la­tion of wax con­tent, a key indi­ca­tor of qual­ity and purity
  • a lower limit for myris­tic acid, to improve detec­tion of palm oil
  • adop­tion of a diglyc­erides and triglyc­erides test, to com­bat fraud­u­lent mix­tures and deter­mine fresh­ness.


All of these were in the draft plan, except for those on wax con­tent and myris­tic acid.

New olive oil cat­e­gory

The EU rep­re­sen­ta­tive also reit­er­ated the need for a change to olive oil cat­e­gories.

For ten years, the basic para­me­ters of each cat­e­gory have remained the same, while in tan­dem we have wit­nessed a con­stant improve­ment in pro­duc­tion tech­niques, pro­cess­ing and the mar­ket­ing of olive oils. Trade has grown by 75 per­cent (EU exports to non-EU coun­tries over the last decade), reflect­ing the qual­ity image of olive oil.”

In this con­text, the EU plans to present to the Members, for their dis­cus­sion and con­sid­er­a­tion, pro­pos­als regard­ing the clas­si­fi­ca­tion of olive oils into dif­fer­ent cat­e­gories, par­tic­u­larly regard­ing phys­i­cal and chem­i­cal qual­ity and purity para­me­ters, and the accu­racy of the panel test.”

The EU rep­re­sen­ta­tive also called on the IOC to hold more fre­quent meet­ings of its chem­istry experts to keep abreast of new devel­op­ments in test­ing.

They said that con­stant effort” was nec­es­sary to track trends in pro­duc­tion, con­sumer pref­er­ences and sci­en­tific advances. While the EU con­sid­ered the IOC the inter­na­tional bench­mark orga­ni­za­tion for olive oil qual­ity stan­dards, it should inten­sify its efforts in rela­tion to qual­ity con­trol, the EU rep­re­sen­ta­tive said.

Olive Oil Times asked the EC for the name of the rep­re­sen­ta­tive but was told the names of such offi­cials are not usu­ally dis­closed.


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