Mineral oil in land of the olive

Although many jokes have been made about the sunflower oil contamination scandal, it is no laughing matter. It is not even an isolated incident, because along with the contaminated oil from Ukraine, we are also seeing large quantities of sunflower oil from Belgium – the heart of the European Union – being withdrawn from the market for being «potentially dangerous.» There is only one conclusion to be drawn from this chain of mishaps: The cycle of trade, distribution and manufacture is governed by criminal indifference and incompetence. Those responsible are also numerous: First and foremost there are the manufacturers, who are either incapable or reluctant to check the quality of their raw materials and certainly unwilling to inform the public of any mistakes in good time. State quality control mechanisms also have a great deal to answer for, because they should be conducting more regular and stringent checks, publish their findings immediately and punish offenders severely – but they don’t. The EU also has a role here. It has made two grave errors in legislation concerning olive and other oils: First, it does not oblige manufacturers to state the country or countries of origin on packaging, and this makes tracing a product back to its original source nigh impossible. The second is that EU guidelines on quality control do not impose the use of available state-of-the-art chemical analyses which are more advanced than those presently being used. Citizens must ask themselves what kind of influence the oil lobby has on Brussels. We should also be asking manufacturers why they don’t introduce simple measures to keep consumers safe. Let us all ask why we are consuming mineral oil in the land of the olive.