ECONOMY

Beware of bulk olive oil

Up to 70 percent of olive oil sold in bulk to Greek households is unsuitable for consumption, the Greek Association of Industries and Processors of Olive Oil (SEVITEL) warned yesterday. The non-profit organization said a survey conducted among 120 households in Attica, Thessaloniki, Larissa, Komotini and Alexandroupolis between August and September this year showed that the quality of olive oil acquired in bulk form, traditionally packaged in 16-kilo tins, could even be detrimental to the consumer’s health. Of the 70 percent of olive oil sampled in the survey, 16 percent had been adulterated with other oils, 43 percent was not in keeping with industry specifications, and 12 percent inedible, Grigoris Antoniadis, SEVITEL president, said. «With the passage of time, the oil could deteriorate and could even be carcinogenic,» Dimitriou Voskou, chemistry and food technology professor, warned. Antoniadis said the results of the survey were in line with an earlier study done by consumers’ institute INKA two years previously, which found 64 percent of olive oil sold in bulk in the domestic market to be of substandard quality. He said olive oil sold in bulk generally fails to match the quality of labeled products because it is not subjected to the strict standards set by the European Commission. Of the 133,000 tons sold annually in the domestic market, 50,000 tons are sold in bulk form, with labeled products accounting for 38,000 tons and the remaining 45,000 tons being kept for own consumption. EU requirements that oil must be sold in 5-liter packaging, which will take effect in November 2003, could be a partial answer, Antoniadis said. He said the State should educate consumers on the issue and promote the merits of olive oil locally and abroad.