`Europe Set for New Regulations on Olive Oil Labeling - Olive Oil Times

Europe Set for New Regulations on Olive Oil Labeling

Dec. 10, 2013
Julie Butler

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New rules aimed at mak­ing the infor­ma­tion on olive oil labels eas­ier to read and under­stand will apply from late next year in the European Union.

Under a draft mea­sure given the green light on November 26 by a European Commission com­mit­tee, the EU mar­ket­ing stan­dards for olive oil (reg­u­la­tion 29/ 2012) will be amended to require that:

- all the infor­ma­tion that has to appear on olive oil pack­ag­ing must be in the main field of vision in a uni­form body of text. The Commission says this should stop a mis­lead­ing prac­tice some­times seen whereby some infor­ma­tion, such as about the qual­ity of the oil, appears in a smaller font;

- the back label of olive oil bot­tles must indi­cate that they should be stored in a cool, dark place. This aims at help­ing con­sumers main­tain the qual­ity of their oil longer;

- the har­vest year may only be stated on the label if all the olive oil is from that har­vest. This is said to be to enable con­sumers to ensure prod­uct fresh­ness;

- EU mem­ber states must strengthen com­pli­ance checks — based on risk analy­sis — as well as sanc­tions, and send more detailed annual reports to the Commission on these checks and the out­comes.

These rules — part of the EU olive oil action plan — will gen­er­ally apply from 13 December 2014, though a new, more thor­ough for­mat for report­ing on com­pli­ance checks to the Commission will apply from 2016.

Minimum font size cov­ered by widers laws on food infor­ma­tion for con­sumers

Olive oil is also sub­ject to EU reg­u­la­tion 1169/2011 on pro­vi­sion of food infor­ma­tion, which set new label­ing require­ments, most of which will also apply from December 13, 2014.

One of its key pro­vi­sions — aimed at improv­ing the leg­i­bil­ity of food labels — is that all the infor­ma­tion that must appear on a label must be of a min­i­mum font size of 1.2mm for the height of an x’, or 0.9mm where the pack’s sur­face area is less than 80 cm².

Ban on cruets now off the agenda

Meanwhile, the pro­vi­sions passed on November 26 by the Commission’s Management Committee for the Common Organisation of Agricultural Markets are under­stood to have had the back­ing of all mem­ber states except Austria, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia and Sweden, which abstained.

Similar pro­vi­sions — but with the major dif­fer­ence of the inclu­sion of a ban on refill­able olive oil bot­tles from restau­rant tables — were put to the vote in the same com­mit­tee back in May and failed to gain the nec­es­sary major­ity. The Commission had planned to nev­er­the­less use its power to imple­ment them but later that month put them on ice amid an out­cry over the refill­able bot­tle issue.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş said then he would con­sult with stake­hold­ers to find an alter­na­tive way to pro­tect con­sumers from fraud. As both Italy and Spain have since moved to fol­low Portugal in ban­ning refill­able con­tain­ers in their hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tors, the EU-wide pro­posal is under­stood to have been per­ma­nently with­drawn as the Commission con­sid­ers much of EU olive oil con­sump­tion will now be cov­ered by such a step at national level.

Other dif­fer­ences are that the draft mea­sures in May spec­i­fied big­ger min­i­mum font sizes for manda­tory label infor­ma­tion — for exam­ple 4mm for a pack­age vol­ume of more than 100ml — whereas the new ones defer to the food infor­ma­tion label­ing rules — and the changes had ini­tially been due to apply from the start of 2014.


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