` U.K. Defines New Ban on 'On-Tap' Olive Oil Sales

Europe

U.K. Defines New Ban on 'On-Tap' Olive Oil Sales

Sep. 5, 2014
By Olive Oil Times Staff

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The agency respon­si­ble for enforc­ing a new ban on the sale of on-tap” olive oil in the United King­dom has pro­vided new details on what would con­sti­tute such a sale.

The ban was announced on August 20, when the Rural Pay­ments Agency updated its Olive oil reg­u­la­tions and inspec­tions” after Arti­cle 2 of Com­mis­sion Reg­u­la­tion 29/2012, as inter­preted by a 2006 deci­sion by the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice, dis­al­lowed the sale of all unfla­vored olive oils on tap, the agency said.

Few details were pro­vided for the new rule, which could impact hun­dreds of small busi­nesses who oper­ate fill-your-own” shops where olive oils are dis­pensed from stain­less tanks called fusti.” Cater­ing to con­sumers’ grow­ing inter­est in qual­ity olive oil, the shops, where cus­tomers are invited to taste before buy­ing, are part of an inter­na­tional retail trend.

Crit­ics of the con­cept say the shops are often ill-equipped to han­dle, store and dis­pense olive oil, and that they bypass Europe’s stricter label­ing laws.

Seek­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the new rule, Olive Oil Times posed ques­tions to the Rural Pay­ments Agency (RPA) on August 24. Today, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive responded, con­ced­ing the ques­tions raised com­plex legal issues which have needed to be fully explored,” about the pro­hi­bi­tion it posted on its web­site that gave mer­chants until this Decem­ber 13 to stop so-called on-tap” sales.

Ques­tion: When exactly does the vio­la­tion occur in an on-tap shop?

RPA: A breach would occur when, for exam­ple, rel­e­vant olive oil is presented/offered for sale in a drum which has no intact seal, and that oil is drained from the drum and bought by a con­sumer. It makes no dif­fer­ence if the con­tainer (bot­tle) into which that oil was drained was sealed before the sale, and that seal remained intact at the moment of sale.

Ques­tion: What was the basis for this rule? Was there a debate on ban­ning these types of stores?

RPA: An on-tap’ method of mar­ket­ing rel­e­vant olive oil is not allowed under the pro­vi­sions of Arti­cle 2 of Com­mis­sion Imple­ment­ing Reg­u­la­tion 29/2012, as those pro­vi­sions have been defin­i­tively inter­preted by the Court of Jus­tice of the Euro­pean Union in Case No C‑489/04 (Alexan­der Jehle, Wein­haus Kiderlen – v – Land Baden-Wurt­tem­berg).

Ques­tion: What if a store filled bot­tles in the back room and labelled each one to com­ply with the reg­u­la­tions?

RPA: This would not be pro­hib­ited by Com­mis­sion Imple­ment­ing Reg­u­la­tion (EU) No. 29/2012 on mar­ket­ing stan­dards for olive oil, pro­vided the oil was bot­tled and sealed before the oil was presented/offered for sale to final con­sumers, and the seal remained intact at the moment of sale. Any­one hold­ing olive oil, from extrac­tion up to, and includ­ing, the bot­tling stage must keep entry and with­drawal reg­is­ters for each cat­e­gory of oil they hold, in accor­dance with the details on gov.uk.

Ques­tion: What if con­sumers were sim­ply able to taste oils from bulk con­tain­ers that dis­played all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion about the oils inside — to decide whether to buy a sealed, fully-labeled bot­tle of it?

RPA: Such tast­ing would not be pro­hib­ited by Com­mis­sion Imple­ment­ing Reg­u­la­tion 29/2012. How­ever, it should be noted that Arti­cle 2(3) of Direc­tive 2000/13 pro­hibits pre­sen­ta­tion or adver­tis­ing of food­stuffs which could mis­lead a pur­chaser to a mate­r­ial degree par­tic­u­larly as to the char­ac­ter­is­tics of the food­stuff or by attribut­ing to the food­stuff prop­er­ties which it does not pos­sess. There­fore, if the olive oil for tast­ing mis­led a prospec­tive pur­chaser in a mate­r­ial way about the olive oil they even­tu­ally bought, this would be a breach of the rel­e­vant pro­vi­sions of the Direc­tive and the Reg­u­la­tion, to be enforced by the rel­e­vant local author­ity.

The rule, which will take effect Decem­ber 13, 2014, applies to extra vir­gin, vir­gin, and refined olive oils, and olive pomace oil. Fla­vored olive oils, such as those infused with gar­lic, are not affected.

Under the new reg­u­la­tion, vir­gin olive oil labels must des­ig­nate a coun­try of ori­gin; refined oils don’t have to. Any­one bot­tling olive oil will need to keep detailed records that would be sub­ject to inspec­tions by the RPA at any time.

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