Midday Express, 4 February 2009
Today Member States 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. 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. These rules complement the rules for specific oils which are protected as part of the system of Geographic Indications and are designed to offer further guarantees to consumers that what they buy in a sealed container corresponds with their preferences and expectations.