30 May

Olive oil origin rules just the start, Italy hopes

By Robin Pomeroy,

ROME, May 30 (Reuters) – Italy, which is pushing the European Union to accept that olive oil bottles should state the true origin of their contents, hopes to extend the idea to other globally traded food products, its farm minister said.

In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, Paolo De Castro said he was optimistic the EU Commission would accept his plan to force all olive oil sold in Italy to be labelled with the country in which the olives were grown and pressed.

De Castro’s bill is supported by Italy’s olive producers, who say oil blenders cash in on the image of Italian quality food even though most brands of “Italian” olive oil contain only a small proportion of product from Italian olives. Italy exports 914 million euros ($1.23 billion) of virgin and extra virgin oil each year. The blending industry says the new rules would be complicated and expensive, something De Castro disputes.

“It doesn’t change so much in substance because there isn’t a great traffic in olives, it’s oil that is traded,” he said.

The draft bill is currently being discussed by interested parties in Italy before being sent to Brussels, where the EU will decide whether it conforms with European law. The EU Commission has said it will not allow Italy to impose rules which effectively ban the sale of products that are freely available in other countries in the 27-country single market. But De Castro said he was confident of a green light.

“If we succeed in having good consultations in Italy I am optimistic (the bill will pass),” he said.

If Italy succeeds in that battle, the minister said Italy would look for something similar for other food products.
“All types of processed fruit and vegetables — for example passata (pulped tomatoes) — and some meat products like chicken meat or turkey meat where is it necessary to identify the product — whether it’s wings or thighs from Thailand, China or Vietnam.

“There are still some products for which origin labelling can help,” De Castro said, adding that origin labels would also show consumers whether livestock had been reared under EU animal welfare regulations.

Such a push for tighter labelling to show the real origin of foods is likely to be opposed by many food exporters and could run into problems at the World Trade Organisation.

The EU has been heavily criticised by countries like the United States for imposing strict labelling and traceability rules for genetically modified foods, something for which Italy was one of the strongest advocates.
Reuters Pictures

“In my opinion this is first and foremost a question of transparency for consumers,” De Castro said.

[Source] Click here

One Response to “Olive oil origin rules just the start, Italy hopes”

  1. Sarina Miller Says:

    I support Paolo De Castro’s bill fully, and hope that it is implemented for all food products. It’s about time that profit-driven companies are held accountable. They have been cashing in on Italy as a “brand” and in the process have facilitated, and profited from, consumer ignorance. I would like to know where the food I buy comes from. Product quality and free trade issues are examples of the benefits of transparency, as well as the assurance that livestock has been reared according to EU animal welfare regulations, as cited by De Castro in Pomeroy’s article.

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