`New Olive Oil Labeling Rules in Italy Require Clearer Origin Indication - Olive Oil Times

New Olive Oil Labeling Rules in Italy Require Clearer Origin Indication

Sep. 17, 2011
Lucy Vivante

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A new decree con­cern­ing food label­ing, and more specif­i­cally gov­ern­ing the char­ac­ter size of ori­gin label­ing, went into effect August 3rd. Minister Saverio Romano of the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali (MIPAAF), or Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Policies, had intro­duced the new rules in June.

The European Community is work­ing towards sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion, but it is still a ways off.

Decree 5464 and Article 1, which focuses on pack­aged olive oil, states that the place of ori­gin of the oil must be writ­ten in leg­i­ble char­ac­ters and that it must be writ­ten in the same field of vision as the cat­e­gory of oil. Legible means that small let­ters must aver­age at least 12 mil­lime­ters in height (just under 1/2 inch).

For smaller con­tain­ers, those whose largest side is less than 80 square cen­time­ters (12.4 square inches), the aver­age char­ac­ter size can be smaller, but not less than 9 mm in height. Additionally, the back­ground must not inter­fere with the read­ing of the ori­gin label.

Italy pro­duces about 550,000 tons of olive oil and exports 300,000 — yet Italians con­sume about 800,000 tons — so much of the oil con­sumed within Italy is for­eign. Consumers have often had to hunt for prove­nance infor­ma­tion, and this decree is meant to address the prob­lem of some­times mad­den­ingly tiny writ­ing. Companies will have 300 days to imple­ment the new label­ing stan­dard.


To make it per­fectly clear, the Ministry pub­lished a guide to char­ac­ters. The height of x” is the key.

Editor’s note: There was no indi­ca­tion whether sim­i­lar rules would be pro­posed for har­vest or best before” dates.

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