` Italy Adopts EU Provisions on Non-Refillable Bottles

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Italy Adopts EU Provisions on Non-Refillable Bottles

Oct. 27, 2014
By Luciana Squadrilli and Marco Marino

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Olive oils sold at retail out­lets and offered in restau­rants in Italy will need to com­ply with new EU label­ing laws and pack­age spec­i­fi­ca­tions, such as the non-refill­able cap pic­tured here.

With an unusu­ally fast pro­ce­dure, Italy’s Cham­ber of Deputies approved EU reg­u­la­tion 2013 bis (S1533), whose arti­cle 19 con­tains impor­tant rules about olive oil.

Fol­low­ing the approval, the Ital­ian Par­lia­ment finally put into force the new law con­cern­ing the qual­ity and trans­parency of the vir­gin olive oil chain.”

The rules were part of the Ital­ian leg­is­la­tion reg­u­lat­ing the qual­ity and trans­parency of vir­gin olive oil pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion signed by for­mer sen­a­tor Colomba Mongiello, and approved in Italy in Jan­u­ary, 2013.

Crit­ics com­plained that the new laws were unfair toward free trade within the EU. The text of the law was then changed in some of its parts and finally approved by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Sim­i­lar laws have already been approved in other Euro­pean coun­tries such as Spain and Por­tu­gal. The Ital­ian Par­lia­ment had to approve the EU reg­u­la­tion to bring it into force in this coun­try.

Accord­ing to the new law, which fol­lows Europe’s recently updated reg­u­la­tions on olive oil label­ing, the indi­ca­tion of the ori­gin of mix­tures of olive oils orig­i­nat­ing from more than one EU state or any non-EU coun­try must be printed more clearly on the pack­age labels, and with brighter col­ors com­pared to the back­ground color, other indi­ca­tions and sell­ing denom­i­na­tions.

It is also expressly for­bid­den to attribute organolep­tic prop­er­ties to olive oils other than extra vir­gin and vir­gin ones (“vir­gin” was added in the lat­est ver­sion).

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As for Ital­ian extra vir­gin olive oil, the law also changed the label­ing oblig­a­tion regard­ing alkyl esters and ethyl esters quota, rat­i­fy­ing only the 30mg/kg limit for ethyl esters.

Another impor­tant change in the leg­is­la­tion is the required use of non-refill­able bot­tle caps.

Accord­ing to the new rules, vir­gin olive oils sold in pack­ages at retail out­lets must be pre­sented in labeled con­tain­ers in accor­dance with the reg­u­la­tions in force, equipped with suit­able locks (so that their con­tent can­not be altered with­out open­ing the pack­age seal), and pro­vided with a secu­rity sys­tem pre­vent­ing the re-use after deplet­ing the orig­i­nal con­tent indi­cated on the label.

The Euro­pean reg­u­la­tion encour­ages non-refill­able, pre-sealed and dis­pos­able oil pack­ag­ing, so oper­a­tors can­not dilute olive oil with low-qual­ity prod­ucts. Those who don’t fol­low this law will be pun­ished with a €1,000 to €8,000 fine and the con­fis­ca­tion of prod­ucts. In the UK, the Rural Pay­ments Agency has said its enforce­ment of the EU pro­vi­sion will extend to the fill-your-own” shops whose oper­a­tions fail to com­ply with the new law.

UE pro­duc­ers should also improve label­ing, as the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is insist­ing on labels that show the name of the prod­uct and its ori­gin more clearly. Brus­sels hopes the changes will allow olive oil pro­duc­ers to strengthen their brands on the global mar­ket. Clear labels can also pro­vide con­sumers with more pre­cise infor­ma­tion about the prop­er­ties of pre-pack­aged foods.

Crit­i­cism, how­ever, has not been lack­ing, par­tic­u­larly from restau­rant oper­a­tors: they will be forced to offer a more expen­sive oil — specif­i­cally pack­aged and non-refill­able — to their con­sumers, which is seen by some as an unnec­es­sary bur­den for small busi­nesses that usu­ally offer oils and vine­gar to all cus­tomers to enjoy free with their food.


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