`Olive Oil Quality Issues Raised at European Advisory Group Meeting - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Quality Issues Raised at European Advisory Group Meeting

Jun. 29, 2012
Julie Butler

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The impor­tance of address­ing poten­tial con­t­a­m­i­nates in olive oil — such as min­eral oil — was one of the issues raised at this month’s meet­ing in Brussels of the European Commission’s Advisory group on Olives and Derived Products.

The meet­ing also dis­cussed com­ing reforms to the sec­tor in Europe; con­cerns over qual­ity stan­dards in the United States, Australia and Brazil; fears on trade lib­er­al­iza­tion with Tunisia; and dis­crep­an­cies in the pro­duc­tion totals declared by Italy.

Olive oil qual­ity

According to a draft report on the meet­ing, held on June 4, another of the nine agenda items was the state of play” on olive oil qual­ity.

The dis­cus­sions were mainly about the chem­i­cal para­me­ters, the idea being of increas­ing the ele­ment of safety and of iden­ti­fy­ing the best para­me­ters in order to safe­guard the qual­ity. The Commission also men­tioned that, as con­cerns olive oil blends a method for the detec­tion of fraud­u­lent activ­i­ties is being pre­pared by the IOC.”

The Commission intends also to under­take steps for the devel­op­ment of a research project Detection of Addition of Extraneous Oils to Edible Olive Oils’” the draft report says.

Discussion also took place on the label­ing and stor­age of the olive oils, sam­ple tak­ing meth­ods, and the need of more infor­ma­tion to be trans­mit­ted to the sec­tor, the report also says, but it gives no fur­ther details.

Olive oil con­t­a­m­i­nants

The meet­ing was told of the impor­tance of address­ing the issue of con­t­a­m­i­nants.

Mineral oils are one of the con­t­a­m­i­nants of olive oils that rep­re­sent a mul­ti­ple prob­lem, as they can con­t­a­m­i­nate olive oil at time of pro­duc­tion, dur­ing the process as well as after that, in bot­tling or even dur­ing the trans­porta­tion” the report says.

The Commission informed that there are no max­i­mum lev­els for min­eral oil in olive oils. There was only a max­i­mum residues level for sun­flower oil from Ukraine, which was an inci­dence level. Following this inci­dent, an eval­u­a­tion of the prob­lem was car­ried out and in the fol­low­ing days after this meet­ing the EFSA opin­ion on min­eral oils would be pub­lished. The dis­cus­sions will start in September to estab­lish whether a max­i­mum level for min­eral oils in food needs to be adopted.”

Olive oil mar­ket

Producer rep­re­sen­ta­tives gave the meet­ing updates on their lat­est fore­casts.

In Spain the next cam­paign doesn’t look very good so far as there are lower quan­ti­ties of rain than in the pre­vi­ous year. Therefore, the pro­duc­tion is expected to be about 50 per­cent of the one of the pre­vi­ous year” the report says.

There is an increase of imports as well as of exports, while the con­sump­tion in Spain is sta­ble (although a slight increase could be observed in what con­cern the vir­gin olive oil). Concerning the prices of olive oils, a drop of approx­i­mately 20% was observed in 2011.”

In Greece, the esti­mates are dif­fi­cult to be made at the moment, as the sea­son is still opened. However, the prices are very low and the mea­sures announced to rein­force the sec­tor are rather con­tra­dic­tory.”

Production and con­sump­tion are sta­ble in France, where a small increase in out­put is expected for 2012/2013, and Portugal faces a slight drop in pro­duc­tion due to low lev­els of rain and domes­tic con­sump­tion there is going down because of the eco­nomic cri­sis.”

The report says that the EC pre­sented its sta­tis­ti­cal doc­u­ments regroup­ing the national data declared by EU mem­bers states.

As regards Italy, there was a dis­cus­sion as to the dif­fer­ence between the quan­tity of pro­duc­tion declared by pro­duc­ers (480,000 tons) and the quan­tity stated by the mem­ber state (397,000 tons)” the report observes.

Olive oil trade with the US, Australia, Brazil, Tunisia and Morocco

The International Olive Council pro­vided an update on the ini­tia­tives of the US, Australia and Brazil con­cern­ing the qual­ity of olive oils and the result­ing prob­lems for exports in those coun­tries.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the indus­try updated on the new rules in Brazil, men­tion­ing that they could be an obsta­cle for the for­eign pro­duc­ers that would like to go on the Brazilian mar­ket. The Brazilian gov­ern­ment has agreed to accept imports of olive oils in the coun­try only if these prod­ucts have a cer­tifi­cate from an autho­rized lab­o­ra­tory.”

Therefore, the Brazilian gov­ern­ment is going to ask for a list of accred­ited lab­o­ra­to­ries to test the olive oil.

The Commission (EC) com­mented on this topic and spec­i­fied that for the time being this issue was fol­lowed closely and cau­tiously by the Commission” the report says.

Under a sep­a­rate agenda item on EU trade lib­er­al­iza­tion with Tunisia and Morocco, some sec­tor mem­bers expressed fears about the impact of open­ing doors for the out­side producers…especially since the sec­tor (is) going through a dif­fi­cult period.”

Changes to EC funds for pro­mo­tion

The EC out­lined reform pro­pos­als aimed at at a more appeal­ing and assertive pro­mo­tion pol­icy, sim­pler man­age­ment, higher European added value and greater syn­ergy between the dif­fer­ent pro­mo­tion instru­ments.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the work­ers pointed out that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paigns con­cern­ing the olive oils had to be car­ried out at a multi-national level so that dif­fer­ent cam­paigns with the same objec­tive wouldn’t be put in place by dif­fer­ent coun­tries.

However, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pro­duc­ers under­lined that those multi-coun­try pro­grams might cause some prob­lems as the coun­tries that should work together have dif­fer­ent views and approaches.

The Commission pointed out that the reform will encour­age multi­na­tional man­age­ment that cre­ates syn­er­gies between/among EU coun­tries.”

EC Advisory Groups

The Advisory Group on Olives and Derived Products usu­ally meets every June and November. The EC advises that opin­ions expressed by the work­ing group rep­re­sent the points of view of indus­try stake­hold­ers and can­not be attrib­uted to the EC.


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