The EU, Restaurants and Olive Oil

by BINOY KAMPMARK

They do themselves no favours. Like a hulking institution that has never seen the light of day lest it provide a degree of transparency, the cocooned individuals of the European Commission have decided to meddle in the restaurant trade. The mantra is always the same: quality and hygiene. From January 1, 2014, eateries will be prohibited from serving oil to diners in small jugs or dipping bowls. The nightmarish pre-sealed and non-re-usable bottles will take their place, an aesthetic monstrosity that will remind consumers who, let alone what, is really in charge.

Killing the romance and deliciousness of eating is not something the EU should be dabbling in, given its poor record on secret and often inscrutable governance. There are enough food fascists in the restaurant trade without having management fascists lord over the food trade. But here, EU officials will assure those across countries that the measure is a noble one – the regulation is coming about as a measure to improve hygiene and quality. (As if the best food is made in a laboratory.)

The proposals were supported by 15 out of 27 EU member governments, including Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal. The propagandists were in full swing on the soap boxes. “The fact that the EU is the world’s major producer of olive oil – for up to 70 percent of the olive oil globally – perhaps this is even more than just a good consumer story for European citizens,” suggested commission spokesman Oliver Drewes (Reuters, May 18). Yes, this inane measure is supposedly good for the consumer.

Similarly, Nunzia de Gerolamo suggested that these measures were part of an effort to impose greater clarity on the market in terms of the oil’s origins. “With the EU’s green light for these new rules calling for more labelling transparency for the olive oil it will finally be able to more easily verify the oil’s characteristics and origins” (The Telegraph, May 18). Be wary of officials who dictate gastronomic quality to the public, those pygmies of the ministry of taste.

The class of persons most likely to be thrilled by this will be the bureaucrat inductees who take over the task of monitoring how the ban will be enforced. Individual countries will no doubt have their own measures of creating another layer of surveillance and accountability. And the consumers will be told it is all being done for their benefit. Then again, that strategy remains the old hoary chestnut of any object of paternalism. They, of course, “know better”.

Naturally, costs will go up for those in the restaurant business keen to find their suppliers. The spokesman for Britain’s Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) welcomed “some of the new rules on improved labelling” but not “this ban as it will likely lead to unnecessary waste and place added burdens on businesses” (The Telegraph, May 18). Julia Garnier of up-market Chez Julien, a Parisian restaurant operating in London since 1780, suggested that the bottles would be an aesthetic aberration and “cost restaurants too much to put in place” (The Telegraph, May 18).

Chez Julien uses a process familiar with most restaurant owners who use olive oil on tables for customers to use: glass containers filled with oil and vinegar that stem from large jugs on site. That practice will cease once the regulations are implemented. “Quality” will trump romance; the food managers have been allowed to win, though customers just might be saved by the ingenuity of those in the restaurant trade. Well, hope springs eternal.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 04, 2015
Vincent J. Roscigno
University Bureaucracy as Organized Crime
Paul Street
Bernie Sanders’ Top Five Race Problems: the Whiteness of Nominal Socialism
Herbert Dyer, Jr.
Is White Supremacy a Mental Disorder?
Ramzy Baroud
The Palestinian Bubble and the Burning of Toddler, Ali Dawabsha
Pepe Escobar
Reshuffling Eurasia’s Energy Deck — Iran, China and Pipelineistan
L. Michael Hager
The Battle Over BDS
Eric Draitser
Puerto Rico: Troubled Commonwealth or Debt Colony?
Colin Todhunter
Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture
Benjamin Willis
The New Cubanologos: What’s in a Word?
Matt Peppe
60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military
Binoy Kampmark
The Turkish Mission: Reining in the Kurds
Eoin Higgins
Teaching Lessons of White Supremacy in Prime-Time: Blackrifice in the Post-Apocalyptic World of the CW’s The 100
Gary Corseri
Gaza: Our Child’s Shattered Face in the Mirror
Robert Dodge
The Nuclear World at 70
Paula Bach
Exit the Euro? Polemic with Greek Economist Costas Lapavitsas
August 03, 2015
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington