The European Union released a study on quality controls performed by the olive oil-producing states.
Requirements pertaining to the olive oil sector are contained in the Common Market Organization (CMO) regulation, including marketing, labeling, and packaging rules and a set of definitions, designations and olive oil sales descriptions.
Olive oil is considered at high risk of fraud due to its economic value compared with other food products, the study stressed, with regulations in place to prevent fraudulent practices and improve the quality of European oils.
The producing Member States are responsible for performing a minimum number of controls each year to confirm that distributors and retailers comply with the requirements.
The study found that the conformity checks concerning consumers’ protection and business-to-consumer fair trade practices were sufficient, while other areas like the existence of a level playing field and the sound operation of the internal olive oil market need to be inspected and improved.
In terms of violations, the most common cases observed during the checks were selling virgin olive oil as extra virgin, and marketing blends of other vegetable oils with olive oil as pure olive oil.
Furthermore, the existing conformity check evaluation system needs to be upgraded, the study stated, to ensure that more resources in terms of staff and finance are involved. Cooperation and coordination among national and regional authorities need to be improved.
There are nine producing Member States (Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, France, Slovenia, Croatia, Malta and Cyprus) accounting for 69 percent of the global production of olive oil. The largest non-producing consumer is Germany, absorbing around four percent of the EU’s olive oil.