` UK Prohibits Sale of Olive Oil 'On-Tap' - Olive Oil Times

UK Prohibits Sale of Olive Oil 'On-Tap'

Aug. 25, 2014
Olive Oil Times Staff

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Fill-your-own ser­vices like this one would be banned after December 13, 2014 (Photo: Deli-cious Fine Foods Ltd.)

With lit­tle fan­fare, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which is respon­si­ble for over­see­ing EU mar­ket­ing stan­dards for olive oil in the UK, has banned the sale of on-tap” olive oils, accord­ing to the UK gov­ern­ment web­site. The rule will take effect December 13, 2014.

On-tap,” or fill-your-own” olive oil shops, where con­sumers are invited to taste olive oils dis­pensed from shiny steel con­tain­ers called fusti,” have been open­ing through­out the UK, the United States and the world. There are esti­mated to be more than 500 such shops in the US alone.

In the RPA’s Olive Oil Regulations and Inspections, updated on August 20, the agency for­bids the sale of olive oils on tap in their pure form.” The rule 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 by the rule.

The new reg­u­la­tion pro­vides scant details, and it remains unclear exactly when a retailer would be in vio­la­tion. For exam­ple, if a shop invited con­sumers to merely taste olive oils from bulk con­tain­ers and sold the oils in pre-filled bot­tles that com­ply with label­ing reg­u­la­tions, it would not seem to con­sti­tute an infrac­tion.

Olive Oil Times asked rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the Rural Payments Agency for clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the rule, but has yet to receive a reply.

Also 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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According to its web­site, the RPA enforces EU stan­dards through more than 25,000 inspec­tions in whole­sale and retail out­lets.”

The new ban quickly came under fire by some who said it would harm small busi­nesses and limit the choices of con­sumers who are only begin­ning to dis­cover the taste char­ac­ter­is­tics and health ben­e­fits of extra vir­gin olive oil, while oth­ers called it a nec­es­sary move to sup­port con­sumer con­fi­dence and the new EU label­ing laws.

Last year, the European Union backed down from a pro­posal to ban refill­able olive oil cruets in restau­rants. Spain later enacted its own pro­hi­bi­tion with broad indus­try sup­port.

This is a break­ing news arti­cle. Check back for updates.

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