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EU-Absurd to ban olive oil jugs & dipping bowls from restaurants tables

Sometimes I sit there and I wonder what weird committees must be sitting in Brussels wasting the money of taxpayers for issuing absurd orders. An  European Union Common Agricultural Policy directive “will ban olive oil jugs and dipping bowls from restaurant tables as of 1. January 2014 for reasons of hygiene and for the protection of olive oil ,” I read in UK’s Daily Telegraph:

“The small glass jugs filled with green or gold coloured extra virgin olive oil are familiar and traditional for restaurant goers across Europe but they will be banned from 1 January 2014 after a decision taken in an obscure Brussels committee earlier this week.

From next year olive oil “presented at a restaurant table” must be in pre-packaged, factory bottles with a tamper-proof dispensing nozzle and labelling in line with EU industrial standards.

The use of classic, refillable glass jugs or glazed terracotta dipping bowls and the choice of a restaurateur to buy olive oil from a small artisan producer or family business will be outlawed.

Sam Clark, the food writer, chef and proprietor of the award winning Moro restaurant in London, told The Daily Telegraph that the ban would stop him serving his customers specially selected Spanish olive oil in dipping bowls with bread when they are seated at their table.

“This will affect us. It is about choice and freedom of choice. We buy our oil, which we have selected from a farm in Spain, to serve our customers,” he said

Mr Clark attacked the regulation as one that would kill off artisan producers and accelerate the demise in Europe of traditional ways of making and serving food, in favour of large industrial producers. “It is very upsetting. Haven’t they already done enough damage to artisan products?,” he said.

The European Commissions justification for the ban, under special Common Agriculture Policy regulations, is “hygiene” and to protect the “image of olive oil” with a measure that will benefit struggling industrial producers in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

Officials defended the ban as a protection for consumers who would know that they were getting a safe, guaranteed product with proper labelling of its origin and with tamper-proof, hygienic dispensers.

“This is to guarantee the quality and authenticity of the olive oil put at the disposal of consumers. The aim is to better inform and protect consumer. We also expect hygiene to be improved too,” said an official.

The decision, which will be automatically adopted by the commission in next few days, has dismayed many officials who are concerned that a ban crafted to help industry will damage the reputation of the EU at a time of growing hostility to Brussels bureaucrats. (full story Daily Telegraph)

“Safe and guaranteed product with proper origin labelling”? But they don’t buy it..

“The choice of restaurateur to buy olive oil from a small artisan producer or family business will be outlawed”? Oh Oh Oh – I see the scheme of cracking down of small businesses in Greece spreading across Europe and thus there were the money is: in olive oil.

If EU bureaucrats were sincerely concerned about the consumers’ protection and the products’ hygiene they should also ban unpacked bread, olives, cheese and butter from restaurant and hotel tables. Also they should close down open salad bars and sandwich services. Not to mention the nasty mixed nuts offered in small bowls to accompany a drink. Do the nameless bureaucrats have any idea, how many fingers have grabbed some nuts and left the rest into an ever recycling chain?

They probably have. But in case of olive oil jugs and bowls, it seems that some large business interests seem to have done some good lobby work in Brussels.

Here in Greece, we call it “oiling”  🙂


A very good point on the issue was submitted by Charlotte H. in KTG-Facebook page: ”

But the EU bureaucrats don’t mind that the Greek people have to eat salad they have collected from the garbage thanks to their policies. Where is the concern for hygiene then?”

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  1. This is typically EU-bullshit.
    I hope that all tavernas in Greece will provide civil outlaw…
    This is the genuine Greek cousine and I’ll hope it will be a human right! A Little bit of bread and oil and maybe some tsatziki is the real Greek taverna. Don’t mess with it!

  2. Let the restaurateurs of Europe say “No!” (ΟΧΙ!) to such an absurd measure!

  3. They are absolutely right!!! Let’s put an end to those horrible practices of putting a piece of half cut bread on the table that you have to break with your hands and then pass it on to your neighbours! And absolutely put an end to that filth Greek way of sharing plates and drink wine from open barrels!!! Let’s indeed pre-package all our food in plastic and present each and every taverna guest with rubber gloves and facemasks to make sure nobody even BREATHS on oil, vinegar or any other food stuff on the table… Let’s force civilization upon those filthy Mediteranians… NOW! (*sigh* Bloody ff-ing morons)

    • keeptalkinggreece

      I consider also as most hygienic measure that restaurant visitors wear one-stop shop … – ops! sorry, taken by economic recovery euphoria here – one=stop gloves. this will put an end to unhealthy Greek & Spanish habits of cutting bread with bare hands and share plates. Not to mention this outrageous habit of ten forks diving in the choriatiki in the middle of the table – ‘papara’ included – thanks to EU salad oil will be served a separate, sealed, one-use bottle.
      However it is not clear to me whether we all have to drink yhe oil directly out of this small bottle.
      As for facemasks, I heard they will have small holes so that restaurant customers can at least eat their food.

  4. Didn’t know the packaging industry was suffering? Judging by all the plastic rubbish everywhere, you wouldn’t say so anyway…
    the EU is beginning to look more and more like an unknown, super-surreal Dali painting. Every day some new absurdity is spotted on the canvass…
    On a more practical basis, has any of the large food companies or supermarkets been buying up small producers right, left and centre, to now finds itself in need to “protect it’s market-share?”
    Oh yes, and for the information of all the EU citizens, this whole process would have started with a super intelligent question from one of the lobbied MEPs (some 3000 lobbyists working full time in Strassburg/Brussels), resulting in passing this on to the committee with the brief to “put a halt to this nonsense”. It recently emerged that the simple fact of asking a question in the EP, no matter how trivial or stupid it is (and there are many examples of that type!), cost you and me, the EU tax payers, up to a whopping €1,400 per question…

  5. EU is not a spiritual entity, this rule was asked by 15 countries interested in increasing olive oil trade (among them Greece, Italy and Spain) against 12 “just-consumer” countries….

  6. They have their work cut out for them. Salt and pepper shakers are not labelled, neither are the vinegar dispensers, the mustard pots, the sugar bowls, milk jugs, coffee plungers, tea pots, jugs of water etc.
    There is no label with the complementary pieces of bread a restaurant might offer you. And what are they going to do about the restaurant that buys some of it’s produce locally, from local producers? Or, God forbid, might even grow some of it themselves. We have an unlabelled, uncertified Basilicum in our local taverna, and they used it on some of the food they serve. CALL THE POLICE!
    On the upside, here’s a chance for all those unemployed people to get a job as a member of the EU Olive Oil Police. The EUOOP. Sounds a bit Yorkshire, no?

  7. Sounds like the US. Working to put all small producers out of business. Large producers selling GM foods with built in pesticides and anti-herbicides are the way to go! Large slaughter houses pushing out poison meat (I would guess that hundreds of millions of pounds are recalled every year) and pink slime. Yummy!

  8. I didn’t get the issue. If we are ordering beer or wine in a restaurant we are able to choose. Why not choosing if your olive oil is greek /spanish or portugese? Isn’t this an opportunity for the producers too? It’s not too difficult to offer your oils in small packages and the customer knows what he is consuming.Even small producers can do this,and restaurant customers will appreciate the better oils.People will finally get to know that Greek olive oil is much more tasty, than the mixes they are served now.

    • keeptalkinggreece

      sorry, but that’s absurd for several reasons: you have the right to choose because you pay. but the oil to dip your bread is a free of charge tiny offer by the restaurant. and do not think, that because it will be offered in tiny bottles, the restaurant owner will have a stock from different countries, so that you will have the chance to dip your bread in a teaspoon of oil. you should also calculate the packaging cost that will make the oil price higher.

    • You would want to check big brothers “EU labelling laws” before trying to tell us this is an opportunity. It is virtually impossible for a small producer to comply with this maze of laws and regulations, and any attempt to do so turns in to a major expense.
      You can be very sure that the big boys have done their homework, figured out that the market being targetted is worth enough for them to go after, and this is it. Exactly as the pharma companies did with herbal medicine. The multis peddling God knows what as food are set up for this. Of course they are, they wrote the laws, the EU implements them on their behalf. Joe soap isn’t set up. Complying with this nonsense is made financially impossible for the small artisan producers, and the EU knows this. It doesn’t stop them pandering to the wishes of the multis though. It really is time to tell the EU where to stuff it…

      • You got it. Plus with big corporations there is no accountability when the “mistake” happens. Nobody goes to jail. Teams of lawyers just drag it on and cover it up.

  9. Simple fact is that EU member states voted on this – its not an imposition by ‘Brussels’, but something that countries decided upon themselves. But when did facts ever get in the way of a good story?

    • Here’s a good story for you, based on fact. At any given time, there are over 3,000 lobbyiest operating in EU headquarters in Brussels/Strassburg. these guys “work” for the various industries to make their cas and “protect” their interests. Arms lobby, pharma lobby, food lobby, you name it. Would you like to hazard a guess as to how much interest these guys have in “the people of Europe”? I’m sure you know the answer. And of course, a little “show of appreciation” here and there goes a long way in ensuring they get their masters wishes seem to. One thing you can be sure off is that the countries did not decide this for themselves. It was decide for the good of the food lobby, for reasons outlined above. Nothing to do with protecting small producers, on the contrary.
      the other simple fact is that this “decision” was taken by an unelected committee, and thier decision will not even be questioned by the also unelected EU commission. They wil just rubberstamp it. the dirty work is done by the minions, aprroved by the masters, with total disregards of the people involved.