As most people know the European Union — the EU — is in the middle of an immense economic crisis, with a lot of its members in recession and others such as Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Cyprus needing bailouts from the EU and World banks to keep them afloat. You would think that our esteemed MEPs — Members of the European Parliament — would be working determinedly to find ways of improving the economic situation and easing the rampant unemployment and ensuing poverty caused by stringent cuts.

But no — our erstwhile leaders have decided in a rather draconian measure that from 1st January 2014 our beloved Olive Oil can no longer be served in a flask or a rustic jug or dipping bowl in restaurants, it will have to be served in “pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.” One of the great joys of eating out in rural Portugal is the chance to “eat local” to help your local community by using their products.

In return, the local providers will sell you five litres of the best Olive Oil in a reused water bottle, saving on transport, packaging, labelling and handling costs. All of the smaller producers from the single farms to medium-sized producers will be affected by this.

I suspect many of the smaller home farms will stop production altogether or it will vanish into the black market and be bartered for wine or vegetables and meat. This is a direct attack on the Portuguese and Mediterranean way of life and will inevitably affect the choice and quality of olive oils available to the consumer. There are some very good oils which are highly manufactured, highly advertised and very smooth. We will miss the rougher, rustic and authentic tastes — if they ever implement it here.

I smell rebellion already. I wonder if they are going to do the same to wine, which is also served in carafes, earthenware jugs and on tap — similar to beer in England.

I also wonder about Tomato and Brown Sauces and salt and pepper and other condiments — are all our wonderful eateries going to be changed into fast food joints, where everything comes in a paper or plastic packet? Will we be fighting with pods of olive oil and dreading the inevitable spill — just like we do with those awful creamers we have to add to our tea and coffee? I definitely taste rebellion.

13 Comments

  1. Now this is a wild story, Nicola! So this is being done for “health” reasons… okay… so where’s the packaged olive oil coming from and who benefits? Where’s the money being made and who is getting paid off?

    Would you be allowed to BYOOO — Bring Your Own Olive Oil — to a restaurant without penalty?

  2. What a bizarre story… I mean, why? Why now? Is it some sort of hygiene issue? Will creating the mandatory packaging for the olive oil create jobs which will bring up the economy? Was there any explanation at all? Or is this one of those non issues that the government decided to focus on to take the attention away from the real issues?

    Very interesting – (I like the BYOOO idea.) I smell an Olive Oil rebellion… Olive Oil Party

    And I do rather like those little creamers I put in my coffee – just sayin.

    1. Thet say is a health hygiene issue – but I have not heard of there being public health issues with rustic oils.

      On the jobs front it might save some jobs somewhere – not sure it will create any.

      Its rather like the comission to determine the curve on bananas …………………

      The creamers are Ok – it is the fact I spill them everywhere that is not!

  3. That was my first question – or thought – follow the money ………… obviously the big producers will benefiit as will the industrial plants that make the tamper proof bottles.

    In the UK you can BYOB – have not found a retaurant where you cannot drink in Portugal – yet!

    We do have restaurants where you can take your own food and they will cook it for you – guess Olive Oil counts as food ……………………. GRIN – that will be the way they get around it .

    1. I’m so curious to know how this idea came about. No health scares. So who sponsored the legislation?

      I know there’s been controversy in the past about the “purity” of olive oil and its provenance — so maybe this is all some newfangled way to guarantee you get what you pay for in some strange, and overindulgent way?

      Can you imagine if they package the olive oil in ketchup packets? The oil will ooze and squirt everywhere! One small pinhole… and an entire box will be unopenable… too slippery! SMILE!

  4. What a weird new rule! If this gets the desired results I can definitely see them trying to implement this on other products. I especially feel bad for the small home farms…no matter where you are, being self sustained seems almost impossible.

  5. It seems to have been pushed by Italy …………….. have been trying to find out which committee thought up this particular brainwave – but the web site for the EU is like a tortoise !