`Europe's Olive Oil Label Verification Laws Not Being Used - Olive Oil Times

Europe's Olive Oil Label Verification Laws Not Being Used

May. 29, 2012
Julie Butler

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European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş has promised tighter scrutiny of olive oil labels, on being ques­tioned by Olive Oil Times about seem­ing flaws in the cur­rent sys­tem.

European Commission (EC) olive oil mar­ket­ing laws already pro­vide for checks on label accu­racy and require EU mem­ber states to report annu­ally on details includ­ing how many label ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests they have received, and their out­comes.

After inquiries with the EC, Olive Oil Times can now reveal how many such label ver­i­fi­ca­tions have been reported to the EC in the last three years by the world’s lead­ing pro­duc­ers Spain, Italy and Greece: none.

The EC said that in that period it had received one report from Spain and two from Italy, all of which indi­cated no label ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests had been received in the pre­vi­ous year. No reports were received from Greece.

Under the EU olive oil mar­ket­ing stan­dards, cod­i­fied in January as reg­u­la­tion 29/2012, var­i­ous par­ties can make requests for tests of the truth of label indi­ca­tions — such as that the oil is vir­gin or extra vir­gin grade — and the rel­e­vant pro­ducer coun­tries must report to the EC by each March 31 on their fol­low up action and any penal­ties applied.

In light of per­sis­tent con­cerns raised world­wide by con­sumers, pro­ducer groups and gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tions about mis­lead­ing olive oil label­ing, Olive Oil Times asked Cioloş if it seemed strange to him that no requests for ver­i­fi­ca­tion had been made under these EU laws. We also asked what should be done to increase mon­i­tor­ing and label­ing accu­racy.

A spokes­woman for Cioloş replied by email that Indeed, no report was received on ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests, how­ever there are other com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels between the Commission and Member States in the olive oil sec­tor, in par­tic­u­lar in the frame­work of Regulation (EC) no. 2568/91, which requests Member States to reg­u­larly send infor­ma­tion on irreg­u­lar­i­ties noted in the sec­tor.”

Discussions are already ongo­ing in the frame­work of the Single Market Organization Committee in order to make con­trol more effec­tive. The objec­tive is to assess whether an adjust­ment of the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion would be needed, so as to take into account the evo­lu­tion of the olive oil mar­ket.”

In addi­tion, Commissioner Cioloş plans to present an action plan on the olive oil sec­tor in the com­ing weeks, prob­a­bly in the first week of June. This might entail adjust­ing tech­ni­cal dis­po­si­tions related to the Commission’s com­pe­tence in strength­en­ing qual­ity con­trol, pro­tect­ing con­sumers and improv­ing label­ing.” she said.



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