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Rural Payments Agency Trials UK Oil Testing

Apr. 28, 2014
Will Noble

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The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has com­menced with a trial olive oil inspec­tion at the largest bot­tler in the UK, as part of prepa­ra­tions for enforc­ing new EU-wide reg­u­la­tions.

A team from the Agency’s Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) car­ried out the trial at UK Edible Oils Limited. The trial was in antic­i­pa­tion of wide­spread qual­ity assess­ments, due to take place across the UK later in the year.

The RPA’s role in enforc­ing the reg­u­la­tions – which came into force at the start of 2014 – has been instated to help pro­tect and reas­sure cus­tomers that the prod­ucts they buy are authen­tic and labeled cor­rectly. Regular checks on bot­tlers and across the retail sec­tor will include chem­i­cal sam­pling and lab­o­ra­tory taste analy­sis. Product labels will also be scru­ti­nized.

John Marsden, Regional Horticultural Marketing Inspector and RPA Olive Oil Sampling Manager, said: This is a new area of work for us. To be able to hold a trial inspec­tion in a state-of-the-art plant like this was invalu­able.

Obviously the premises we will visit will vary widely from large state-of-the-art bot­tling plants like this one to smaller busi­nesses and retail premises.”

Despite vast dif­fer­ences in size and moder­nity of the UK’s olive oil bot­tling plants, there will, claims the RPA, be lit­tle vari­a­tion in the way tests are car­ried out. Procedures and poli­cies, the RPA says, have been designed to ensure a con­sis­tent and trans­par­ent approach to the enforce­ment of the new reg­u­la­tions.

A total of 14 work­ers have been trained to carry out olive oil test­ing across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, although inspec­tions in the lat­ter will be car­ried out by DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for Northern Ireland).

According to Marsden, the reac­tion from the indus­try has been pos­i­tive over­all, with oil man­u­fac­tur­ers sup­port­ive of the new inspec­tion rules. The RPA hopes to even­tu­ally ban­ish below-par and incor­rectly described oils, ensur­ing the actions of a minor­ity” no longer sully the indus­try’s rep­u­ta­tion.

The min­i­mum require­ment for test­ing, as estab­lished by the Commission Regulation, is one con­for­mity check per thou­sand tonnes of olive oil mar­keted in the Member State each year. In the UK then, this cur­rently equates to a total of 59 checks annu­ally.


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