`In Spain, a Move to Ban Refillable Olive Oil Bottles in Restaurants - Olive Oil Times

In Spain, a Move to Ban Refillable Olive Oil Bottles in Restaurants

Nov. 4, 2010
Daniel Williams

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By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona

In an effort to curb the dis­sem­i­na­tion of anony­mous, and unreg­u­lated olive oil, the Socialist Party in Spain (PSOE) recently pre­sented an ini­tia­tive to the Commission of Environment and Agriculture in Spain’s Congress of Deputies seek­ing to pro­hibit the use of refill­able, unmarked olive oil bot­tles in European restau­rants and bars.

This ini­tia­tive, pub­licly defended by Socialist deputy Alejandro Alonso, looks to erad­i­cate the dan­gers of anony­mous serv­ing bottles”[1] which he claims, greatly degrade the image of olive oil.”[2] The party pre­sented a propo­si­tion
con­fronting the issue to the government’s Lower House which they hope will
even­tu­ally put pres­sure on President Jose Luis Zapatero to try and estab­lish
the proposal’s stan­dards through­out the European Union.

Olive oil is served as a sta­ple in typ­i­cal Spanish restau­rants as an accom­pa­ni­ment to bread or salad and usu­ally comes in small, refill­able serv­ing bot­tles which men­tion noth­ing of the brand of oil inside, its grade and qual­ity, or where it is pro­duced.

Mr. Alonso, sur­rounded by the Spanish press, com­mented on the issue: We’ve found that these serv­ing bot­tles con­tain oils that some­times are not olive oil at all, or not of ade­quate qual­ity, and are some­times mixes but above all, they debase the good name of the olive oils that we produce.”[3]

The Socialist Party has pub­li­cally pro­claimed that this sit­u­a­tion presents a direct threat to pro­duc­ers, as the olive oil con­tained in these bot­tles could very well be fraud­u­lent or unreg­u­lated. They posit that the sit­u­a­tion poses a sim­i­lar dan­ger to con­sumers, liken­ing the olive oil sit­u­a­tion to the con­sump­tion of alco­hol taken from a refill­able, unmarked bot­tle that details noth­ing of the prod­uct inside.


These issues have been brought to the fore­front of the polit­i­cal debate by olive oil pro­duc­ers backed by cer­ti­fi­able Denominations of Origin. These pro­duc­ers fear that their more expen­sive olive oil is being passed over by restau­rants and bars pur­chas­ing fraud­u­lent or unreg­u­lated olive oil at prices below the indus­try stan­dard in an effort to save money.

In the name of pro­tect­ing pro­duc­ers and con­sumers alike, the Socialist Party has requested the estab­lish­ment of spe­cific stan­dards which would unequiv­o­cally guar­an­tee the qual­ity of the olive oil served at restau­rants and bars. Socialist deputy Francisco Reyes explained that the pro­posal would force estab­lish­ments to serve all olive oil in closed, non-refill­able bot­tles with spe­cific labels iden­ti­fy­ing the brand and qual­ity.

As Socialists, we are con­sci­en­tious of the impor­tance of olive oil in our coun­try and that is why it is nec­es­sary to develop a spe­cific set of norms that will ensure the qual­ity of olive oil that is given to our con­sumers,” Mr. Reyes explained.1

His col­league, Mr. Alonso added that the ini­tia­tive would also serve to cre­ate and main­tain jobs and stim­u­late the econ­omy. For that”, he said, we have asked the Spanish par­lia­ment to insist that the Government defend and push for­ward this ini­tia­tive, which will ben­e­fit the olive oil sector’s added value and will con­tribute in an effi­cient way to improve the guar­an­tees of food secu­rity.“3

Members of Spain’s oppos­ing Popular Party approved of the Socialist ini­tia­tive, but advo­cated imple­ment­ing the mea­sure in Spain first before con­fronting the European Union with the propo­si­tion. Popular deputy Gabino Puche explained that, it would be dif­fi­cult to ask the European gov­ern­ing bod­ies to apply a norm which we are not capa­ble of apply­ing our­selves.“1

His Popular Party later pro­posed an amend­ment to the propo­si­tion which would first apply the reg­u­la­tion in Spain, regard­less of whether it could even­tu­ally be applied through­out the European Union.

The counter-pro­posal was ulti­mately rejected by the Socialists and the propo­si­tion was approved exactly as it had been out­lined ini­tially. Now unan­i­mously approved by the Congress of Deputies, the Socialists hope that the urgency of the pro­posal will war­rant the atten­tion of President Jose Luis Zapatero and even­tu­ally that of the European Union.

Regarding the appli­ca­tion of the pro­posal through­out Spain, Socialist Deputy Alonso closed with a plea to the hotel and restau­rant sec­tor to vol­un­tary accept the stan­dards of the peti­tion: May we always rely on qual­ity olive oil in restau­rants which answer to clear identifications.”[3]

1 http://www.portalolivicola.com

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