The following Q&A with the EU Commission clarifies the EU position on the issue. Italy is imposing 18 months as maximum “best before” for olive oils, but the Commission is asking to amend the national legislation. If an olive oil will be too “old” and will lose its organoleptic properties (i.e. high levels of peroxides and acidity), it won’t met the standards set by the EU Regulations, therefore should be removed from the market. This is up to the food business operator and to competent authorities’ controls. That’s Commission’s position.
A Pilot case has been opened and the Italy answered that legislation will be amended.
Subject: Expiry date on olive oil labels – 11th April 2016
Numerous studies have shown that the characteristics of olive oil deteriorate with time. It begins to lose the polyphenols, antioxidants and vitamins that slow down the body’s degenerative processes, making it such a valuable health food. Above all, peroxides and acidity — low levels of which have always been considered key quality criteria for customers — increase.
With the implementation of the Community requirements, the expiry date will no longer be 18 months, but may be decided freely by the bottlers themselves. This is tantamount to having no expiry date at all, since everyone will be able to set a date in accordance with his or her own commercial interests, without there being any guarantees for consumers; hence the risk that many people will take advantage of this measure to dispose of ‘old oil’.
In the light of the above, will the Commission say:
- Does it believe it necessary to initiate a change in the labelling of extra virgin olive oil in order to ensure its quality and, above all, the safety of consumers?
- What steps it will take to prevent old oil finding its way onto the tables of European consumers?
Answer given by Mr Hogan on behalf of the Commission – 7th June 2016
Article 9(1)(f) of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 lays down, among the mandatory particulars to be indicated on labels, ‘the date of minimum durability’. For olive oil, it corresponds to the period within which olive oil retains its properties and should preferably be consumed. It is the responsibility of the food business operators to indicate this date of minimum durability.
In the EU market, the quality, authenticity, labelling and marketing of olive oil is regulated and safeguarded by two Regulations (Regulation (EEC) n° 2568/91 and Regulation (EC) n° 29/2012). These Regulations require Member States to carry out conformity checks to ensure that the olive oil marketed is consistent with the category declared.
(Source: EU Parliament)