Food Law News - UK - 2001

FSA Press Release (2001/0137), 14 August 2001

CONTAMINANTS - Food Standards Agency Update on Safety of Olive-Pomace Oils

The Food Standards Agency is today issuing further advice on olive-pomace oil, following notification from the European Commission of unacceptably high levels of potentially cancer causing chemicals in samples of a specific olive-pomace oil product from Greece. This follows Food Standards Agency action last month to withdraw Spanish olive-pomace oils for the same reason, following action by the Spanish Government.

The products affected are two batches of Bevelini Olive Pomace Oil produced in Greece and sold in the UK in five litre cans and one litre bottles. They have been withdrawn by the UK distributor but any remaining in circulation should be removed from sale and not used. The first batch is marked with an expiry date of 06/2002, lot number 19062000146M. The second batch has an expiry date of 04/2003 and the lot number is 20042001091M.

The first batch was reported to contain 100 parts per billion (ppb) of benzo(a)pyrene (BaP). The Food Standards Agency advice is that we would expect olive-pomace oil to contain less than 2 ppb of BaP. The second batch has been withdrawn on a precautionary basis while samples are being tested. These products were distributed mainly through wholesale outlets.

Geoffrey Podger, Food Standards Agency Chief Executive said:
" This action does not apply to any other olive oils or other olive-pomace oils, just this specific product. It is important to remember that olive-pomace oil represents only a tiny amount of the UK vegetable oil market: around 0.25% of the one million tonnes consumed each year. However it is important that we act on behalf of the consumer. That is why we are advising all producers and retailers to undertake checks on their products to ensure that they contain less than 2 ppb of BaP."

The European Commission also alerted the Food Standards Agency to a problem with a specific Italian olive-pomace oil, Dentamano Olio Di Sansa De Oliva. We are not aware that this is on sale in the UK, but we are investigating and will issue further advice if necessary.

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