Brighton eco-supermarket told to stop olive oil refills

Posted On 15 Oct 2019 at 9:31 am


A Brighton supermarket has been told it has to stop dispensing olive oil refills because it’s against the law.

Hisbe discovered this month that it was unknowingly falling foul of EU legislation implemented in 2012 which says olive oil must only be sold in a sealed bottle or container that can’t be re-sealed after the first time it is opened.

The York Place store, which sells a range of loose goods so customers can refill their own containers to cut down on waste, posted about its dilemma on Facebook this month.

It said: “This could be an end to our olive oil refills, because it seems selling virgin olive oil on tap is actually illegal (well, they don’t call us Supermarket Rebels for nothing! 😉)

“Seriously though, someone complained to the authorities about us and the government sent their man in to tell us off, even though our oil is clearly labelled and comes directly from Honest Toil Olive Oil

“We apologise to our many disappointed customers and we will find a way to solve this. We’re not about to give up on refilling when it’s the right thing to do for a sustainable food future.

“So, the big question is, do you think we should bow to the rules and take it off sale, or risk prosecution in the name of the Refill Revolution??!”

It later told Convenience Store magazine that it was considering infusing the oil with a small amount of rapeseed or flavoured oil to get around the rules, which don’t apply to infused oils.

  1. Phil Reply

    Why don’t you “give it away” free. but request a donation of an appropriate sum.

  2. Johnno Reply

    Please done pollute the oil with seed oil. Use herbs or pepper instead.

  3. David Reply

    I don’t know anyone who call you rebels, guys, but yes, a lot of people who call you ” the pricey blue shop “

  4. Steve Reply

    A quite sensible rule to stop unscrupulous shopkeepers/businesses from selling possibly tainted products, or products which were not actually as stated on the container e.g. Heinz Ketchup but containing own brand rubbish.

    This changed in Spain a couple of years ago, all the olive oil, and ketchup / mustard containers were changed to single use in restaurants I visited.

    A shame for those businesses that sell generic products “on tap”, but overall a good idea.

  5. christian thompson Reply

    Won’t be a problem in a few weeks. We’re leaving the EU!

    • ChrisC Reply

      EU regulations – remember approved by the Commission, the Parliament and the Council of Ministers which all have UK members on the, – are approved by the U.K. parliament as statutory instruments and so form part of U.K. law. And Brexit won’t change that.

      So this regulation will remain U.K. law until it either gets repealed or replaced by the U.K. Parliament.

    • Rimanlo Reply

      There is always NI in limbo. There is only England North and South. But yes, congratutalations. From the 1st of November we can all eat shit at whatever price the free market decides. No labels.

  6. Grant Mercer Reply

    It’s not remotely a quite sensible rule. Cause for the regulation can be traced back to 1981 when, in Spain, thousands of people died as a result of poisoning from something they had consumed. At the time, democracy in Spain was only a few years old after the fall of Franco in ’75. Extra Virgin Olive Oil was one of Spain’s strongest exports but some rogues had been diluting it with cheaper rapeseed oil prior to export, lessening its overseas appeal. The rapeseed oil mixing/dilution was blamed as the source of the poisoning and the regulation against selling (only extra virgin) olive oil from anything other than that in which it was originally packed followed. The Guardian looked into this some time back and suggested that a more likely candidate for the poisoning was (possibly illiterate) farmers applying the wrong quantities of pesticides and fertilizers on their tomato crops. I think the regulation has more political reasoning than anything genuinely to do with the health and safety of the public as it only applies to high-grade olive oil, no other oil. I wonder if the complainant has complained to their MP that other oils aren’t also subject to the regulation.

    • Rimanlo Reply

      Yes, Grant Mercer, you’re absolutely right. People died in Spain because some unscrupulous middle men adulterated the olive oil with rapeseed oil for industrial use – not human. These laws exist for some greedy businessmen not to mess with quality /price / genuineness. And that’s why among many other health and safety issues, the boss of the Weatherspoons is so happy to leave the EU ASAP.

      • Tom Knight Reply

        Can you point me to a business which does not have to make a profit?
        Are you saying Hisbe doesn’t need to be profitable?

  7. Chloaggi Reply

    Put a single peppercorn in it and consider it infused.

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