Italy hikes up fines for 'deceptive' olive oil labels

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The move comes in a bid to crack down on olive oil fraud. Photo: Dave Fayram/Flickr
10:07 CEST+02:00
In the latest move to protect one of its most famous exports, Italy has increased fines for misleading packaging on olive oil to up to €18,000.

Sanctions for manufacturers who flout the country's strict olive oil packaging rules have been significantly increased in a new government decree.

The move aims to protect the quality and status of Made in Italy oils, as well as protecting consumers' rights.

One of the most significant changes is a sixfold increase in the fine for 'country sounding' - reference to a geographical location which is not the actual origin of the oil.

Manufacturers falling foul of this rule could be fined €18,000, up from €2,000 - and the fine applies even if the label correctly states the origin.

So for example, packaging featuring the Italian flag prominently could be seen as misleading if the oil is not from Italy, even if the label states the correct origin.

READ MORE: How to spot fake Italian olive oil

Incorrect or missing information regarding the category of olive used could see manufacturers hit with fines of up to €15,000, compared to €2,500 previously.

But it's not just deceptive labelling that could get manufacturers in hot water; packaging which does not conform to the rules, for example the wrong kind of bottle-tops, could land oil makers fines of €4,800 rather than the current maximum of €150.

The decree was published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale -  the Italian government's official journal of record - and will come into force from July 1st 2016.

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Italy takes its olive oil seriously and has been battling against counterfeit oils for years.

Seven major Italian olive oil producers were investigated in 2015 after allegations they failed to abide by the rules on how olive oil should be produced and labelled.

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