It's tough to avoid filling up on bread when restaurants keep bringing their baskets of freshly baked bread along with bottles of olive oil to dip it in. But some restaurateurs have been known to pass off lower-quality olive oil, or other oils entirely, on diners by serving their olive oil in dipping bowls or from refillable jugs. And now, in an effort to curb the tide of olive oil fraud, the EU has banned restaurants from serving olive oil in dipping bowls or refillable bottles.
The new law, which is slated to go into effect in January of next year, says restaurants will only be able to leave olive oil on tables if it is served in prepackaged bottles with factory-sealed lids that cannot be opened and refilled. The law will not, however, have anything to do with salt, pepper, butter, or any of the other things commonly left on restaurant tabletops, The Daily Mail reports.
"We are just protecting consumers. We are just making clear that when you want to have olive oil of a certain quality in a restaurant you get exactly the one you are paying for," said EU spokesperson Olivier Bailley.
Portugal already had a similar law in place, and the European Commission explained that it had passed the law in the interest of public safety and protecting the image of olive oil from being tarnished by restaurateurs who might otherwise refill olive oil bottles with other, cheaper oils.
"This is to guarantee the quality and authenticity of the olive oil put at the disposal of consumers. The aim is to better inform and protect consumer. We also expect hygiene to be improved, too," another official explained.