Incatema Consulting & Engineering takes part in the Assessment of the EU oil sector’s Conformity Control System

12 March, 2020

Incatema Consulting & Engineering has worked with a consortium of European companies led by ARETÉ Srl, to carry out this Study for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Agriculture. The Study has analysed the functioning of conformity controls in the olive oil sector for the whole of the European Union, with the primary objective being to analyse how said controls are conducted and to identify the main problems with the system along with the potential solutions to same.

The study’s conclusions reflect that, in general, members States consider the EU’s conformity control system for olive oil to be adequate, meaning that olive oil is one of the most controlled products in the food chain In particular, EU members states consider that the control requirements are adequate, including the minimum number of conformity controls that need to be performed each year, as established in (EEC) Regulation No. 2568/91, bearing in mind the characteristics of its internal market and the need to also control other food products.

Olive oil, susceptible to fraud

Olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, is considered to be a food category with a high risk of non-compliance and fraud, due to its high economic value compared to other food products. Conformity controls carried out by the competent national authorities are directed at ensuring that the olive oil marketing rules are fulfilled in the EU market.

The importance of this study, in which Incatema Consulting & Engineering has been in charge of the Case Study for Spain lies in investigating how conformity controls are carried out in the olive oil sector across all member states of the EU, so as to identify problems and bottlenecks and propose solutions to improve efficacy and efficiency in fraud detection.

The study also identifies certain challenges and difficulties in the implementation of control systems, often driving from national specificities, such as the multiple competent authorities involved in the system, insufficient funding, lack of qualified personnel, lack of laboratories or tasting panels and lack of specific sanctions for non-conformities.

In the words of Sergio de Román, director for Agriculture, Fishing and Rural Development of Incatema “Spain is the leading global producer of olive oil, and therefore we are especially proud of being able to collaborate with institutions to guarantee the quality of this product, present in every Spanish home.”

The study’s conclusions also make way for a series of ideas and proposals aimed at tackling the most important challenges facing the conformity controls system for olive oil, including several designed to improve the training of personnel; solutions to improve the functioning of the analysis or organoleptic test and improved labelling solutions. Recommendations are also made in respect of guaranteeing traceability in the olive oil sector, and suggestions to introduce innovative elements in the control system.