(Photo: Shutterstock/Angel Simon)
The European Union (EU) recently announced that beginning on January 1 of 2014, eateries will be banned from serving olive oil in dipping bowls or even having re-usable bottles of the delectable good at the table.
From that point on, olive oil can only be served in "pre-sealed, non-refillable bottles that must be disposed of when empty," Reuters reports.
According to the European Commission, the executive branch of the EU, the much-criticized move is intended to improve hygiene and make sure the olive oil has not been diluted.
"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," European Commission spokesman Oliver Bailly said in Brussels.
Apparently 15 out of 27 EU member governments supported the measure, including a few of the countries most associated with olive oil -- Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Ostensibly, the move will also help struggling olive oil producers in the economically beleaguered countries. But some say it will put smaller producers -- those who put their product in a large jar and can't afford tamper-safe bottles for every portion -- out of business.
Enzo Sica, who owns an Italian restaurant in Brussels, told Reuters: "They say they're thinking about consumers, but this will increase costs for us and our customers as well. In this time of crisis, surely they should be worrying about other things rather than stupid stuff like this."
EU Olive Oil Ban Internationally Ridiculed
The EU's decision to focus on olive oil during a time of record debt and unemployment is drawing merciless criticism by the press and lawmakers alike.
“Suddenly, E.U. ministers have decided to wage a war on bad hygiene and sound traditions when many Europeans can’t afford a bar of decent soap,” Robert Bridge wrote in Russia Today.
The New York Times said Euroskeptics are seizing upon the ban "as proof of mindless interference by a faceless bureaucracy," while the blog at the U.K. Guardian asked whether the EU has "gone mad," adding: "As pointless – no – moronic laws go, it's a doozie, showing absolutely no understanding or consideration for how restaurants and consumers operate."
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron said "this is exactly the sort of thing that Europe shouldn't even be discussing," while Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said it is "too bizarre for words and incomprehensible to come with this sort of proposal at a time like this," according to the U.K. Daily Telegraph.
In a scathing speech in front of the European Parliament, U.K. MEP Nigel Farage tackled the issue after blasting the hypocrisy of government leaders fattening their own pockets while targeting the rich as an "enemy."
"I'm sure the citizens of Europe will all clap and cheer loudly that the grave, mortal danger of olive oil in dipping bowls has been removed by the officials," he said with inimitable scorn. "Well done, everybody."
Watch Farage's complete speech (which includes a few pointed words about global warming, as well), below: