EU ridiculed for banning olive oil jugs from restaurants

Move to ensure olive oil is served in non-refillable bottles condemned as weirdest decision since curvy cucumber ruling

EU bureaucrats have been ridiculed for shifting their focus from fighting the eurozone’s debt crisis to impose strict rules on how restaurants serve olive oil.

From 1 January eateries will be banned from serving oil to diners in small glass jugs or dipping bowls and forced instead to use pre-sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty.

The European commission said the move was designed to improve hygiene and reassure diners that olive oil in restaurants had not been diluted.

But critics say the rules are a sop to Europe’s olive oil producers, and will only add to the frustration felt by many towards a bloated bureaucracy regarded as out of touch with ordinary people.

The commission said its proposal was supported by 15 of 27 EU-member governments, including the continent’s main olive oil producers – Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal – which are among the countries worst affected by the euro crisis.

Germany opposed the plans in a private vote; Britain, which regularly cites perceived meddling from Brussels as the reason for its strained relationship with Europe, abstained.

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung described the move as the “weirdest decision since the legendary curvy cucumber regulation”, referring to now-defunct EU rules on the shape of fruit and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

The regulations are based on those in force in Portugal since 2005 and are part of an EU initiative to help olive oil producers hit by rising operating costs and falling profits in recent years.

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