HomelabelsOlive oil, the EU follows Italy on optional indications

Olive oil, the EU follows Italy on optional indications

The EU follows Italy's example in defining harmonized rules on optional indications on olive oil labels. Details to follow.

Virgin and extra virgin olive oil, marketing standards

The EU regulation 29/2012 - relating to the marketing standards of olive oil - had already provided for the obligation to indicate, on the labels of extra virgin and virgin olive oil, theorigin of the raw material. Understood as'geographical area in which the olives were harvested and in which the mill where the oil was extracted is located '.

The origin of the raw material - and therefore, the area where the olives were harvested - indeed has an objective relevance in determining the perceived and / or actual quality of the final product. (1) The Antitrust Authority since 1997 has indeed stated that 'the territorial origin of the raw materials is, in the eyes of the consumer, of particular significance, given the reputation that some areas of the Italian territory can boast in the production of olive oil.' (2)

Il EU regulation 2018/1096, in force since 3.8.18, has most recently amended the reg. EU 29/12. By updating the conditions to indicate on the label some news of a voluntary nature, such as collection campaign and the content of of lactic acidity. By means of homogeneous criteria, to be applied uniformly in the Internal Market.

Acidity and harvesting campaign, the news on the label 

Il reg. EU n. 2018/1096 introduces two essential innovations on the optional information in the labeling of olive oils. News to be applied starting from 6.2.19, i.e. from the 2018/2019 oil campaign.

1) Maximum acidity

THEof lactic acidity to be indicated on the label must not be the one detected in the initial phase, at the time of bottling, but the one measured at the end of the minimum storage term.

The indication Furthermore, the maximum acidity must be accompanied by the values ​​relating to the peroxide index, the wax content and the absorption in the ultraviolet. Values ​​referring to the characteristics of the product at the expiry of the minimum storage term. (3)

Particular scruple it will have to be dedicated to the construction of models able to foresee the variations of the aforementioned values ​​throughout the course of the shelf life, taking into account the variables related to the conservation methods of the product. 

The particular conditions of conservation, please note, they must also be reported also on the external packaging, i.e. the logistic unit (cardboard and / or shrink plastic) that contains the individual sales units.

2) Collection campaign

The olive harvest campaign, according to the provisions of reg. UE 2018/1096, must be indicated on the label referring, alternatively, to: 

- marketing year. That is, from 1 July of the harvest year to 30 June of the following year, (4)

- month and year of harvest, considering the month of extraction of the oil from the olives. 

Member States can impose the indication of the harvesting campaign on the labels of the oils produced in their territories only from olives harvested there and destined exclusively for the national market. (5)

The EU has therefore followed the Italian example, at least for once. The indication on the label of the olive harvesting campaign is in fact mandatory since 2016 in Italy. (6) And it will remain so, provided that the Central Administration provides for the ritual notification of its rule in Brussels.

Dario Dongo and Giulia Torre

Footnotes

(1) The Lazio Regional Administrative Court has long stated that, in assessing the deceptiveness of an olive oil label, it must betaking into account the central importance for the consumer of the geographical indications of the particular product"(Sentence 2077/1999). The Court of Turin, in turn, observed that 'in the case of the product "olive oil" (...) the "geographical origin" of the olives has a particular meaning and value for the consumer"'(Judgment 36282/2004)

(2) Provision AGCM 4970/1997

(3) See reg. EU 2018/1096, art. 1.1.a

(4) See reg. EU 1308/13, art. 6.1.c.iii

(5) See reg. EU 2018/1096, art. 1.2

(6) See law 7.7.16 n. 122, article 1

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