Fabian Demicoli

Compulsory origin labelling for virgin and extra virgin olive oil

 Member States have voted in favour of a European Commission proposal to introduce compulsory origin labelling for virgin and extra virgin olive oil.

Rules introduced in 2002 established optional labelling for these oils, but this proved insufficient to avoid consumers being misled about the true characteristics and origin of certain products. As a result of agricultural traditions and local extraction and blending practices, such oils may be of quite different taste and quality depending on their geographical origin.

For this reason and in line with the traceability rules of European food law, the time has now come to introduce compulsory origin labelling for virgin and extra virgin olive oil.

Oils originating from just one country will carry the name of the Member State, or of the third country or of the Community. Blends will be labelled either "blend of Community olive oils", "blend of non-Community olive oils" "blend of Community and non-Community olive oils" or equivalent information.

In addition certain terms such as 'fruity', 'green', 'mature', 'mild' and 'well-balanced' – which have recently been defined by the International Olive Council – may also be used on virgin and extra virgin olive oil labels for oils complying with the definitions.

The new rules will apply from 1 July 2009. However, products which have been legally manufactured and labelled in the Community or legally imported into the Community and put into free circulation before 1 July 2009 may be marketed until all stocks are used up.

Source: MEUSAC Agriculture and Fisheries Committee

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