`Olive Oil Detained Due to Pesticide Traces - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Detained Due to Pesticide Traces

Mar. 19, 2013
Julie Butler

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The detec­tion of pes­ti­cide traces has stranded 98 ship­ping con­tain­ers of Italian extra vir­gin olive oil in the ports of New York and Seattle, accord­ing to Italian Member of the European Parliament Sergio Silvestris.

In a writ­ten ques­tion ear­lier this month, Silvestris informed Parliament checks by United States Customs and Border Protection on sam­ples in var­i­ous con­tain­ers found traces of Chlorpyrifos-ethyl.

The lev­els detected — rang­ing from 0.015 to 0.020 ppm — were min­i­mal, and below the max­i­mum allow­able residue level (MRL) of 0.250 ppm set for all agri­cul­tural crops in the European Union. But the pes­ti­cide — used against the olive fly — can­not be used for olive oil pro­duc­tion in the U.S., he said.

It is, how­ever, accepted and autho­rized in the U.S. for use on var­i­ous crops, with a MRL) of 0.100 ppm.


Silvestris said all EU oil imported by the US is sub­ject to prior checks by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Italian olive oil exporters have for sev­eral years had con­sid­er­able dif­fi­culty” sell­ing their prod­uct to the U.S. because of the pres­ence of Chlorpyrifos-ethyl residues. A pes­ti­cide whose use is autho­rized in Italy and Europe in olive cul­ti­va­tion (under) European Commission reg­u­la­tion 149/2008.”

At present, over 80 per­cent of the extra vir­gin olive oil pro­duced in Italy and sold in the U.S. remains blocked in 98 con­tain­ers at the ports of New York and Seattle,” he wrote in an as yet unan­swered ques­tion dated March 8.

Silvestris linked the mat­ter to the need for changes to FDA reg­u­la­tions and the wider issue of the com­ing talks this sum­mer on a transat­lantic free trade deal.

Why has a bilat­eral agree­ment with the U.S. in rela­tion to that sub­stance not yet been reached?”

Will the Commission start nego­ti­a­tions with the FDA as soon as possible…with ref­er­ence to Chlorpyrifos in agri­cul­ture and food?”

What fur­ther action does it intend to take in order to ensure free trade between the two par­ties and pre­vent san­i­tary and phy­tosan­i­tary mea­sures, such as those described, from becom­ing real inter­na­tional bar­ri­ers to the export of EU prod­ucts,” he asked.

An American olive oil importer told Olive Oil Times that some con­tain­ers of Spanish extra vir­gin olive oil had also been held.

In 2011/12, the U.S imported just over 317,000 tons of olive oil, up 8.6 per­cent on the pre­vi­ous sea­son. Italy was the main sup­plier, fol­lowed by Spain.

Juan Corbalán, Brussels del­e­gate of Spanish Agri-food Cooperatives — which holds the pres­i­dency of the olive oil sec­tion of European farmer fed­er­a­tion Copa-Cogeca — said European olive oil exporters suf­fered restric­tions in the U.S., where European qual­ity stan­dards were not rec­og­nized.

We have the feel­ing they are not very com­fort­able with olive oil from Europe because it’s more com­pet­i­tive than theirs,” he said.

Criticism in the U.S. of E.U. qual­ity stan­dards and talk of the coun­try pos­si­bly intro­duc­ing its own olive oil mar­ket­ing order had cre­ated a lot of uncer­tainty and was deter­ring poten­tial exports to the U.S.

Producers from the E.U. don’t want to take the risk to go there because they don’t know what will hap­pen tomor­row, they don’t have sta­bil­ity,” he said.

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