The EU Olive Oil ban: Time for open defiance


No.  Honest.  I’ve checked the date, and it’s May 19th (as I write), not All Fools’ Day (except in Brussels, where it’s All Fools’ Day all the time).  It really does seem to be true that the EU wants to ban olive oil from restaurant tables, unless it’s served in individual sealed containers carrying mandatory information and declarations.  Bizarrely, a restaurant will be able to serve house wine in a decanter — or water in a jug — with no provenance at all.  But not olive oil.

Tory MEP Martin Callanan rightly asks whether the EU has nothing better to do than to instigate this ban. No government or legislature should be interfering in this way in the fine grain of our daily lives, and seeking to regulate the minutiae of the dining table.  One of the great problems of our age is the hubristic assumption by governments of all stripes that they can legislate for anything at all that they happen to think is a good idea, without considering whether this is a legitimate area for state action.

But there are very substantial reasons for opposing this ban — æsthetic, environmental, competitive, public health — in addition to a general objection to the NannyState.

The new packs will deliver some prescribed quantity, which will tend to lead to waste.  A great deal more packaging will be used. And eventually go to landfill.  It is ironic that when some MEPs are campaigning against bottled water, to save packaging waste, we should be mandating individual bottles for olive oil.  And clearly the price will be higher to cover the additional packaging.

Some restaurants will reluctantly switch to the pre-pack olive oil.  Others will conclude that they can go without, and that customers can make do with butter.  A healthy option will be quite literally taken off the table.  I will particularly regret this, as I’ve recently got into the habit of dunking my bread in oil (it comes of having an Italian staffer).  (Apologies to dairy farmers, by the way, but I think olive oil probably is healthier than butter).  Any benefits to European producers by elimination cheaper substitutes will be offset by an overall reduction in use.  And given that fraudsters having little difficulty in producing counterfeit cigarettes, I expect counterfeit pre-pack olive oil to be the next big thing.

In terms of competition, pre-pack olive oil will be a boon to the large-scale industrial food industry, but a barrier to entry for smaller or artisanal producers.  So on average, quality will go down.  Think of the serious restaurateur who loves to discover particular vineyards for his vin de maison, and particular olive oil producers.  He can keep buying and serving the wine, but his special olive oil will not be available pre-packed.  Like so much EU regulation, this ban will create barriers to entry which will support big corporations, but will militate against new, small and innovative suppliers.

Then there is the æsthetic issue.  I’ve been in many restaurants where the waiter serves olive oil, from an elegant bottle with a special stopper, allowing oil out and air in.  Perhaps the bottle also has herbs in it, flavouring the oil.  He pours it with a swagger almost as a sommelier would pour wine.  The unctuous greeny-yellow liquid sits effulgent in its porcelain saucer, with delicious drifting aromas of the warm south.  That’s part of the dining experience.

And what shall we get instead, courtesy of Brussels?  Wretched little plastic bottles (it’s sure to be plastic) with the EU’s mandatory product information, for all the world like a sachet of Heinz tomato sauce in a cheap café.  It cheapens and devalues the dining experience.

So why are they doing this?  To protect us, the consumers, from the risk that dishonest restaurateurs might serve cheaper oil.  Did we ask to be protected?  Do they think we can’t tell the difference between good olive oil and bad oil?  Can’t they leave it to the market?  If I go to a restaurant and I’m served rubbish, I simply won’t go back.

In fact the restaurants in the European parliament itself routinely offer a condiment set on the tables that includes salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil — and I often use it to dunk my bread.  I wonder if they’ll obey the new rules as well.

It is time for restaurateurs and diners to rise up and say “Enough is enough!  Up with this we will not put!”.  As a general principle, I (and UKIP) support the rule of law.  But this is a step too far.  It brings the law into disrepute, and hits us where it hurts.  In our stomachs.  The only response is open defiance.  I shall make a point of patronising any restaurants that stand by free olive oil, properly served.

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15 Responses to The EU Olive Oil ban: Time for open defiance

  1. Eric Worrall says:

    Noone will risk defying this rule Roger. The EU has too much power, and too much scope to wield it arbitrarily, without restraint. What starts as a dispute over a simple point of law could end with your restaurant seized and your kids forcibly taken into care.

    The only defiance which is now possible is to vote with your feet, the way we did – to escape the tyranny in the way people have always escaped tyranny, before they close the border.

  2. Jeremy Zeid UKIP Harrow says:

    And you can be sure/that our own Whitehall Quislings and Council Gauleiters backed up by the Politicized Plods will gold-plate and enforce this madness with extreme rigour, naturally “to protect children” and the usual PC emotional garbage.

    But here’ are a couple of pertinent questions?

    Was this brought before the Euro Parliament?

    Is this lunacy supported by the red “Greens”?

    Only today various business leaders co-signed a letter in the Times to stay within the EU-asylum. Does this mean that signatories such as the Chairman of Lloyd’s Bank is happy with the destructive EU Tobin-Tax? Am I right in thinking that Richard Brandon is happy for his enterprises to be regulated to a point of uncompetitiveness?

    I think that we really should be told.

    • So far as I can remember, Jeremy, this was never voted in parliament. Much of the EU’s folly comes from obscure closed committees and we see it only after the event. But you right about Branson — see my earlier Tweet.

  3. Jeremy Zeid UKIP Harrow says:

    Damn that predictive text… I meant Richard Branson.

  4. Mike Spilligan says:

    Is there any way that the very powerful tool of mass ridicule can be used in this case?

    • David says:

      Andrew Neil raised this olive oil rule to danny alexander on sunday poiltics prog. he surprisingly, agreed it was stupid, so some wide exposure has already been given to this nanny state rule, they are the most interfearing (intentional miss- spell) group on earth.

    • David says:

      No, not when its a rule made by tools.

  5. Linda Hudson says:

    People stand up and use lawful rebellion!

    • Jeremy Zeid UKIP Harrow says:

      There is no “lawful rebellion” in the UK, “new” Fascist Labour made sure of hat with the disarmingly cutesy named “Civil Contingencies Act” that “in full compliance with the ECHR” can bulldoze your home without compensation, pile you into a mass “reception centre” with nowt but the shoes you stand in and with no compensation, oh yes and execute you for “non compliance”. I suggest that you all read it.

      Tellingly this excuse for a “Liberal” Conservative coalition, had not and will not be repealing it, likewise the RIPA snoopers charter.

      Read all of the caveats and get-outs that litter the Human Rights Act and the ECHR to the extent that we have NO RIGHTS save those bestowed at any one time. That is why the Human Rights Act must go, because it is exactly the opposite, especially for the masses like us.

      Join UKIP, vote UKIP, get active, it’s far later than you realise on the road to Britain becoming a huge offshore Island Prison.

  6. catalanbrian says:

    I agree with you. This is madness. Around here, in rural Catalunya, the oil served in the restaurants will come from the restaurant owners own family’s trees, or from the trees of one of his customers. Frankly I cannot see this changing here as I am sure that the law will be ignored, but it is this sort of petty law that puts the law in general into disrepute (and there are plenty of similar ridiculous laws that exist in the UK – dangerous dogs act to name but one). I presume that in future we will have to use salt, pepper and vinegar from those silly little sachets.

    And what about the wonderful greasy spoon cafe’s where currently we enjoy various sauces of unknown provenence that we pour from regularly topped up Heinz and HP bottles? Life will not be worth living.

  7. David Cox says:

    Help, get us out of the stupid EU !

  8. chipping away at tradition; jars filled from local village produced oil to be replaced by high taxed oil from big buis; Control! I lived in a Cypriot mountain village for 3 years in the 80’s every second house had a small cottage industry operating in the back garden some making wine or whisky others olive oil, food products, baskets lace charcoal, etc etc; the EU will churn out bull dust regulation after bull dust regulation crushing these SME’s europe wide in favour of their buddies in big business:

  9. M Davis says:

    God knows how on earth we humans have ever survived, without having interfering control freak bureaucrats, such as the EU vermin, to tell us how to live our lives! Vote UKIP and get us OUT!

  10. Jeremy Zeid UKIP Harrow says:

    Plus, Eric, we have been systematically disarmed, disempowered and disenfranchised; reduced to a new serfdom caught between the increasingly trigger happy tooled-up Plods, increasingly armed and emboldened criminals who have more interpreted “rights” than we nu-serfs: Oh yes and an increasing power-drunk and nasty, uncaring layer of Gauleiters and satraps infesting Councils, quangos, charities and other bodies. Naturally, this is all paid for by us, out of our dwindling reserves and increasing overdrafts on pain of punishment, fines, arrest, DNA data rape and civil forfeiture by the increasingly secretive Kangaroo Kourts. Why do you think that I joined and now fight for UKIP?

  11. Hugh Davis says:

    Sorry to have to correct you on one point, Roger, but butter is a slightly healthier option than olive oil. Although olive oil contains far less of (harmful) polyunsaturated fat (7%) than seed oils, it still contains seven times as much as does butter.

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