By Niamh Michail+,
Related topics: Fats & oils, Fruit, vegetable, nut ingredients, Policy, Food safety, Healthy foods
A certification label added to bottles of Italian extra virgin olive oil will combat fraud and allow consumers to trace their oil from tree to table, the Italian olive oil sector has said.
The label will include a QR barcode so consumers can instantly find out more about the oil's origins.
Only oil from Italian olives processed in Italy that can be traced back to the producer will be allowed to bear the label, which was jointly developed by the Italian Agricultural Confederation (CIA), National Consortium of Olive Growers (CNO) and Italy’s State Mint.
The CIA described its "super seal" as “an instrument designed to deal a lethal blow to those who intend to defraud, adulterate and counterfeit, but also to those who cunningly circumvent the rules and regulations or exploit their weaknesses, deceiving the distracted consumer”.
Olive oil fraud is estimated to cost the industry €1.5 billion per year globally.
At the launch of the seal last month CIA president Dino Scanavino said quality extra virgin olive oil was a flagship of Italian agriculture while the harvesting and processing sector, with over 700,000 businesses in operation, had a significant impact on the economy and social fabric of the country.
Mauro Rosati, director of agrifood protection organisation Qualivita, said: "This project, as others going in the same direction, is undoubtedly the way to go to ensure the specificity of the product, both domestically and in international markets.”
According to the CIA, there are more than 800,000 olive groves in Italy producing 400,000 tonnes of extra virgin olive oil annually.
Italy has 40 varieties of olive oil that have been granted European designated origin protection (PDO) and two that have protected geographical indication (PGI) status.