Italy cries foul over UK thumbs down on olive Oil
by FFE EU News Staff
UK’s system that aims to combat obesity has been implemented out of good intention. But not everyone is pleased with its consequence.
The UK’s ‘traffic light’ labelling system that warns consumers of food rich in fat, sugar and salt has just given the red light to one of Italy’s highest food exports: olive oil. On Tuesday, Italy tapped on the EU’s Council of Ministers and said that the red label given to olive oil and other Italian food might endanger the UK and Italy’s relationship. Italy’s bid was supported by France, Greece, Spain and Brussels.
Italian Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin talked with UK’s undersecretary of state for Public Health Jane Ellison to settle the matter. Lorenzin said that ‘Scaring consumers is wrong’, and that the Meditteranean diet is ‘[about] eating more fish, white meat, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables – and less bread and pasta.’
The Mediterranean diet is included in Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. But the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is looking past UN backing and sticking to their system that says ‘any red(s) on the label means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on.’
But by giving olive oil the red label will scared off consumers regardless of the good benefits of the olive oil like the ability to fight Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
European Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg is monitoring the situation. He said ‘European legislation allows each state to introduce similar measures on a voluntary basis. At the moment, based on the information we have, we don’t have reason to think anything else is happening.’
He added that if any irregularities are observed in the UK’s labelling system, then ‘we would not hesitate to intervene.’