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The EU isn't banning refillable jugs of olive oil after all

Agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos has abandoned his plan after opposition from northern European countries.

The refillable olive oil bottle won't now be scrapped from 2014.
The refillable olive oil bottle won't now be scrapped from 2014.
Image: Olive oil bottle via Shutterstock

THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has abandoned its proposal to ban restaurants from serving olive oil in refillable jugs, after coming under widespread criticism for the plan.

Agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolos took to a regular media podium to perform a U-turn that spawned a string of Twitter gags and reaction, but stuck to his line that restaurateurs are potentially misleading customers by pouring cheap or old oil into containers presented as new.

“We want to avoid consumers being tricked,” said Ciolos of the rationale behind the decision announced last week, after a committee of agricultural experts failed to muster the required qualified majority in favour.

But Ciolos added: “Since Friday, I have seen and heard… strong views expressed by … consumers.”

He said he now recognised that the ban was “not formulated in such a way as to assemble widespread support.

“As a consequence, I am withdrawing the proposition.”

Olive oil-producing countries from the southern Mediterranean were in favour of tightening the regulations to ensure oil was clearly labelled, whereas northern European countries – who tend to be the consumers of the product – were against the plan.

Ciolos said he would now put producers, traders, restaurateurs and diners “round the same table” in a bid to “find a better way.”

Asked why he had not attempted to apply similar restrictions on wine in eateries, the Romanian Commissioner said:

I have rarely found an open bottle of wine served on my table.

Scottish MEP Alyn Smith, a member of the European Parliament committee tasked with monitoring this policy area, tweeted that the “olive oil proposal was, after all, virgin on the ridiculous.”

- © AFP, 2013

Read: The EU is banning refillable bottles of olive oil

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