Regulations and procedures aimed at keeping track of olive oil production and transportation should be the same throughout Europe and should also be adopted by the International Olive Council, according to Unaprol.
The Italian association of olive oil producers has asked the Italian government both to mimic some of the new procedures introduced by Spain and to work toward the harmonization of olive oil regulations at an international level.
It is the time to extend rules and procedures aimed at preserving safety, quality and reputation of olive oil, both at a European and international level.
The goal is to offer trusted and verified products to consumers while preserving good industrial practices.See Also: Researchers Identify Main Types of Olive Oil Fraud, Propose Solutions
José Penco, director of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Municipalities (AEMO), told Olive Oil Times that the new set of rules will build trust and called the legislation “the future of the olive oil sector in Spain.”
According to Penco, the law introduces six new measures to improve the Spanish olive oil sector:
Unaprol has noted how the new digital registry asks producers to declare olive oil shipments in a way that closely resembles the digital registry Italy has already adopted to improve olive oil traceability and labeling conformity.
The Spanish traceability mechanism requires specific accompanying documents for all olive oil movements. This applies to bulk olive oil too, which is to be accompanied by a certified analysis aimed at ensuring that the transported product profile matches the declared quality category.
“The implementation of new levels of traceability and olive oil identification is quite relevant since the new rules ask for the olive oils to be identified, analyzed and classified before leaving the mills, and to do using a modern and computerized platform,” Penco said. “This will prevent or at least make it difficult to perform certain prohibited olive oil mixes and practices.”
Unaprol noted how the new rules ask certified olive oil shipments in Spain to be communicated within 24 hours from the beginning of their transportation, a time limit that Italian rules set at five days.
“This is a relevant evolution that makes things very hard for dishonest players who operate on a global scale,” said David Granieri, Unaprol’s president. “Transparency and traceability are essential to protect both producers and consumers.”
Rafael Pico Lapuente, director of the Spanish Association of Olive Oil Exporting, Industry and Commerce (Asoliva), told Olive Oil Times that the new rules “have an inspiring principle, which is to strengthen controls on olive oils. This also ensures a better quality of the product and earns the trust of consumers.”
According to Unaprol, building consumer trust and protecting quality is essential to protect the olive oil market. Therefore, the organization believes new harmonized rules should be widely and internationally adopted.
“It is the time to extend rules and procedures aimed at preserving safety, quality and reputation of olive oil, both at a European and international level,” Granieri said.See Also: Italy Set to Deal Major Blow to Agribusiness Pirates
“Within a global market, we can not accept the co-existence of different control procedures which end up penalizing the most virtuous countries,” he added. “That same approach should also be extended to the other rules which involve the perception of olive oil by the consumer, such as the anti-topping cap or the refreshed olive oil prohibition which protect both the consumers and producers.”
However, such harmonization will have to overcome a few hurdles.
Lapuente said the new “quality standard rule only affects Spain since it prohibits certain local practices which do not involve other countries within the European Union.”
“For instance the [production activities] separation of the new industrial facilities,” he added. “This might affect the competitiveness of the Spanish companies compared to other European countries or companies outside the E.U..”
The issue of creating a coordinated effort to combat fraud and simple violations of food safety and marketing rules remains relevant in the E.U. due to the increasing number of incidents reported in the bloc.
According to the latest data, from 2016 to 2020, reports of food fraud in the E.U. rose from 157 to 349, with more reports for oils and fats than any other category.
However, the annual report by the E.U. Agri-Food Fraud Network does not list all incidents of fraud. It only includes requests for cooperation and voluntary exchanges of information among member states
“Fats and oils [at 51 reports], where the majority of cases concern olive oil, is the most notified product category in the system in 2020, similarly to 2019,” the report said. Fish and fish products were the second most notified with 34.
“Member States have to perform annual controls to ensure that the marketing standards for olive oil are respected,” the report added. “Non-compliances notified in the database may not systematically relate to fraud but to the fact that the intrinsic characteristics of extra virgin and virgin olive oil are not met.”
“Olive oil degrades over time, especially if the storage and transportation conditions are not optimal,” the report continued. “The notifications demand further investigations by member states to distinguish between genuine non-compliance and fraud.”