`Debate Continues Over Olive Oil Labeling - Olive Oil Times

Debate Continues Over Olive Oil Labeling

Jan. 14, 2013
Julie Butler

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Debate over what infor­ma­tion should appear on olive oil bot­tles — and how promi­nently — con­tin­ues in Europe as the European Commission drafts promised new label­ing laws.

The EC has not made its pro­pos­als pub­lic, but they are said to include rules on posi­tion­ing and font size. For exam­ple, requir­ing details of ori­gin to appear in the main visual field in text of at least 5 mil­lime­ters in the case of one-liter pack­ages.

At the last meet­ing of its advi­sory group on olives and derived prod­ucts, con­cerns were raised about the prac­ti­cal­ity of such moves.

According to draft min­utes of the November 16 meet­ing, the size under dis­cus­sion was not con­sid­ered appro­pri­ate in pro­por­tion to the amount of infor­ma­tion required on the label.”

The min­utes — recently obtained by Olive Oil Times under the EU trans­parency pol­icy — went on to say: As it was argued that the amount of manda­tory infor­ma­tion to be put on the main label was too large, a trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive sug­gested that the impor­tant infor­ma­tion should be defined first.”

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pro­duc­ers argued that the ori­gin of the prod­uct, as well as the other char­ac­ter­is­tics, were impor­tant but not needed on the label,” the min­utes said.

Meanwhile, a con­sumer rep­re­sen­ta­tive argued that all essen­tial infor­ma­tion should be of the same size, infor­ma­tion on stor­age con­di­tions should appear, and the pack­ag­ing date be more explicit.

The min­utes said it was agreed that the font size used for labels should be dis­cussed fur­ther, but the infor­ma­tion pre­sented should remain leg­i­ble.” It was noted that the stor­age con­di­tions of olive oil was con­sid­ered impor­tant, and that the date of bot­tling and year of pro­duc­tion would have to be dis­cussed in more depth.

Differences in EC and IOC data queried

Amid dis­cus­sion of pro­vi­sional fig­ures for the 2012/13 sea­son, prices and exports trends, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of farm­ers, mills and con­sumers aired con­cerns about incon­sis­ten­cies” between the Commission’s data and that of the International Olive Council (IOC).

The con­sumer rep­re­sen­ta­tive said such dis­crep­an­cies should not occur as both the Commission and IOC use data pro­vided by gov­ern­ments.”

An EC rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the Commission’s trade data is based on dec­la­ra­tions by national author­i­ties, but IOC bal­ance sheets are based on sources addi­tional to gov­ern­ment esti­mates.

The point was also made that mar­ket out­look assess­ments depended largely on the timely-writ­ten con­tri­bu­tions of rel­e­vant par­ties. Stakeholders were invited to pro­vide the data so that the sta­tis­tics would reflect the mar­ket sit­u­a­tion bet­ter,” the min­utes noted.


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