Spain reassures about olive oil safety

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Olive oil, European union, Spain

On July 5, the Spanish government urged consumers to continue using
olive oil after a low-grade oil derived from olives was removed
from store shelves...

On July 5, the Spanish government urged consumers to continue using olive oil after a low-grade oil derived from olives was removed from store shelves amid concerns it may be tainted by a cancer-causing chemical. Earlier in the week, Spain halted movements of oil produced from crushed olive residues, labelled as olive-pomace oil, after the Spanish Health Ministry discovered it contained traces of a hydrocarbon called benzopyrene. However the European Commission had taken no measures to block any kind of olive oil from consumers, it said late on July 5 in a statement. According to the statement, EU health authorities should meet on July 6 in Brussels to "evaluate the situation based on the additional information that Spain has sent to the European Commission."​ The low-grade derivative makes up about 10 per cent of Spain's annual production of 1.1 million tons of olive oil. Olive oil producers protested against the measure, saying it has inadvertently led to cancellation of some orders for regular olive oil from abroad. But there were no immediate signs of an impact on sales in Spain. "Olive oil is a genuinely Spanish product, very healthy, and of course it will continue to be exported,"​ Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said, to make the distinction between olive oil and olive-pomace oil. Olive-pomace oil is sometimes mixed with other virgin or regular olive oils and used mostly in home and industrial cooking. The industry group Asoliva said it suspects benzopyrene is produced when olive residues burn upon being heated beyond recommended temperatures during dehydration. According to scientists, benzopyrene poses a long-term cancer risk. According to the industry group Asoliva, Spain exports about 13,000 tons of olive-pomace oil per year to more than 50 countries, part of an industry generating $890m in annual export earnings. Portugal has prohibited all trade in olive-pomace oil as a precautionary measure and started seizing shipments, and the European Commission has informed other member states of Spain's concern. Source: Reuters

Related topics: Policy

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