` European Commission Advisory Group Told Panel Tests 'Not Sustainable'


European Commission Advisory Group Told Panel Tests 'Not Sustainable'

May. 7, 2012
By Julie Butler

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Con­cerns with the olive oil panel test were aired at the last meet­ing of the Euro­pean Commission’s Advi­sory Group on Olives and Derived Prod­ucts.

Accord­ing to a draft report of the Novem­ber 9 meet­ing — just pub­lished on the EC’s web­site — views expressed included that the test was expen­sive” and unsus­tain­able” long-term.

The report, which does not list the atten­dees nor name the source of the views expressed, says there was some dis­cus­sion of pro­pos­als on physico-chem­i­cal, and espe­cially organolep­tic” issues.

In what appears in parts to be a trans­la­tion into Eng­lish, the report notes that, A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the indus­try high­lighted that the issue is around since many years and it is an expen­sive one. The only way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate vir­gin and extra vir­gin olive oil is the panel test: whilst the way it is applied across Europe should be assessed care­fully, the panel test should be kept in place as no alter­na­tive method has been found so far to find out the above men­tioned dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.”

The Pres­i­dent pointed out that no abo­li­tion of the panel test was asked but that the sys­tem is not sus­tain­able in the long run.”


The report goes on to say that a trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the meet­ing said that the prob­lem was not with the panel test sys­tem per se, but the way it is enforced in the (Euro­pean Union) Mem­ber States.”

As (a) mat­ter of fact, no par­tic­u­lar prob­lems are sig­naled in Spain while, per­haps, it could be some­thing related to the way the Ital­ian author­i­ties do enforce the panel test which cre­ates prob­lems over there.”

The report ends its sum­mary of the mat­ter not­ing, The Com­mis­sion con­cluded that it is in any­way good to have a panel test.”

Other busi­ness

Among other mat­ters dis­cussed at the meet­ing was the lack of a uni­form stan­dard for olive oil inter­na­tion­ally. The group mem­bers looked at infor­ma­tion from socio-pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions” on export prob­lems involv­ing the United States and Aus­tralia due to exist­ing dif­fer­ences of national stan­dards in other coun­tries.”

The meet­ing also heard a call from pro­duc­ers for an olive oil mar­ket obser­va­tory to be set up and received brief­ings on the sta­tus of EU rules on allow­able health claims for olive oil; of free trade nego­ti­a­tions with coun­tries includ­ing Israel, Pales­tine and Morocco; and the cur­rent reform of the EC’s Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy (CAP) sub­sidy sys­tem.

Pro­posed post-2013 CAP green’ mea­sures trig­gered a lively exchange of views.” A pro­duc­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the sec­tor was, try­ing to improve and to achieve a bet­ter level of qual­ity,” but the reforms put these efforts at risk.


Portugal’s José Maria Amorim Fal­cão, from Euro­pean farmer fed­er­a­tion Copa-Cogeca, was unan­i­mously elected vice chair­man of the advi­sory group. Accord­ing to a sep­a­rate report, on the group’s meet­ing on June 7 last year, Gen­naro For­cella, from Italy, was elected chair­man at that meet­ing and Greece’s Léonidas Vosta­nis was also elected a vice chair­man.

Filo della Torre

The atten­dees marked a minute of silence in honor of for­mer UNAPROL direc­tor Ranieri Filo della Torre, who died in Rome shortly before the meet­ing. He had been a valu­able col­league pro­mot­ing olive oil and its pro­duc­tion.”

EC Advi­sory Groups


The Advi­sory Group on Olives and Derived Prod­ucts usu­ally meets every June and Novem­ber. The agenda for its next meet­ing has not been made pub­lic but accord­ing to the report on its meet­ing last June, it is due to revisit issues relat­ing to the allow­able alkyl-ester level in olive oil.

A note above the past meet­ing reports says that the opin­ions expressed in them rep­re­sent the points of view of the meet­ing par­tic­i­pants from agri­cul­ture-related NGOs and they, can­not, under any cir­cum­stances, be attrib­uted to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.”

The Com­mis­sion has var­i­ous advi­sory groups in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor and they usu­ally include var­i­ous rep­re­sen­ta­tives of COPA-COGECA, as well as trade, indus­try and con­sumer del­e­gates.

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