`Spain Denies Request for Details of Olive Oil Audits - Olive Oil Times

Spain Denies Request for Details of Olive Oil Audits

By Julie Butler
May. 29, 2013 10:10 UTC

Spain has objected to the release of a report to the European Commission on its audits of the accu­racy of olive oil labels for the year 2012, after Olive Oil Times requested a copy under the Commission’s trans­parency pol­icy.

Spain told the Commission that releas­ing the report would prej­u­dice the com­mer­cial and eco­nomic inter­ests of the olive oil sec­tor in gen­eral and com­pa­nies involved in con­trol in par­tic­u­lar.”

The infor­ma­tion con­tained in it refers to mon­i­tor­ing activ­i­ties and this infor­ma­tion is intended for inter­nal use,” it said.

Italy reported receiv­ing no ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests

Meanwhile Italy, the world’s next biggest olive oil pro­ducer, agreed to release its report, which — stick­ing closely to the word­ing of the gov­ern­ing reg­u­la­tion — said that in 2012 it received no requests for label ver­i­fi­ca­tion under the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of E.U. reg­u­la­tion 29/2012 on mar­ket­ing stan­dards for olive oil.

Under arti­cle 8 of that reg­u­la­tion, E.U. mem­ber states must take sam­ples and con­duct tests upon receiv­ing a request to ver­ify the truth of the indi­ca­tions on an olive oil pack­age — such as that the oil is extra vir­gin grade or of a cer­tain ori­gin. These requests may be made by the Commission itself, an oper­a­tors’ orga­ni­za­tion in the mem­ber state, or the con­trol body of another mem­ber state.

Article 10 requires that by March 31 each year the mem­ber states send the Commission a report on the ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests they received the pre­vi­ous year and the out­come. According to the Commission, Spain’s report this year was dated April 11 and Italy’s February 7.

Problems with label com­pli­ance check sys­tem

Last year, Olive Oil Times requested copies of the label ver­i­fi­ca­tion reports the Commission had received in the pre­vi­ous three years by Spain, Italy and Greece and was told that in that period one report from Spain and two from Italy were received, all of which indi­cated no label ver­i­fi­ca­tion requests had been made.

On being ques­tioned then about the seem­ing flaw in com­pli­ance con­trol, European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Cioloş promised tighter scrutiny of the truth of olive oil labels.

Regulation on tighter label­ing checks on hold

In March, the Commission pub­lished new rules under which mem­ber states must beef up their checks on whether olive oils con­form to reg­u­la­tion 2568/91, which defines chem­i­cal and organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics.

States will have to do at least one tar­geted check annu­ally per thou­sand tons of olive oil mar­keted within them, and pro­vide more detailed reports by May 31 each year on the out­come.

The checks must be based on risk analy­sis which takes into account fac­tors includ­ing the price of oils in rela­tion to other veg­etable oils, the coun­tries of ori­gin and des­ti­na­tion, and the rel­e­vant blend­ing and pack­ing oper­a­tions.

However, a sim­i­lar plan for more effec­tive checks of com­pli­ance with the label­ing and mar­ket­ing rules in reg­u­la­tion 29/2012, and more detailed reports to the Commission, is now in limbo.

An amend­ment to that reg­u­la­tion would have required mem­ber states to check the accu­racy of olive oil label­ing, in par­tic­u­lar the con­for­mity of the sale name of the prod­uct with the con­tents of the con­tainer,” on the same risk analy­sis basis.

But these changes — which had been set for adop­tion by the Commission next month — were in the same amend­ing reg­u­la­tion that would have banned refill­able olive oil bot­tles from restau­rant tables and were with­drawn last week by Cioloş over oppo­si­tion to that mea­sure.

A spokesman said the Commission wanted first to meet with con­sumer and restau­rant orga­ni­za­tions over the lat­ter issue before decid­ing how to pro­ceed.

Olive Oil Times has asked the Commission to review its deci­sion not to release Spain’s lat­est label ver­i­fi­ca­tion report.


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