A massive rally of farmers took place in Bari (Apulia) against an EU bill that is seen as a threat for the quality of agri-food products and the protection of consumers. Thousands responded to the call of Coldiretti, demonstrating aboard tractors and armed with anti EU placards.

At the center of the protest is the proposed EU law that provides for the substantial elimination of the 18 months of shelf life limit on the label of extra virgin olive oil.

The European bill aims to amend an article — the so called ‘save oil’ or ‘Mongiello’ law — which reads: “the minimum storage period within which the virgin olive oils retain their specific properties when in proper usage conditions, may not exceed eighteen months from the date of bottling.”

“Numerous studies have shown that over time extra virgin olive oil changes its characteristics and loses its healthy features like polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins,” Coldiretti declared. “The attempt to delete the expiration date of olive oil leads to a quality risk, damaging the consumer.” The association of farmers first has asked for the maintenance of minimum durability, but also calls for “the introduction of compulsory indication of the harvest year on the label.”


Tractors parade during the event promoted by Coldiretti against the EU bill.

“The battle on the labeling is an issue of competitiveness for our country,” said Maurizio Martina. The Minister of Agriculture added that the measure debated by the Parliament provides that the mandatory words ‘best before’ should be included in the label, but this deadline will be under the responsibility of the manufacturer.

The second matter of contention regards a proposal to do away with the requirement to provide clearer indication origin of the product “with different and more noticeable chromatic relevance” on the label, now compulsory for the Italian law. “The European bill provides for pejorative changes on the labeling of olive oils,” Coldiretti claimed.

“Suppressing the measures which provide for the indication of the origin of the blends of olive oils with different and more evident relevance than the background color, compared to the other and indications and descriptions, has the effect to mitigate the levels of protection for consumers.”

The Senate’s EU Policies Committee is now debating the measure and the vote has been postponed until after the Easter break.

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