EU to ban olive oil jugs from restaurants - Telegraph

"Yet more packaging is not going to be eco-friendly and will limit choice to more mass produced products."

Mr Clark attacked the regulation as one that would kill off artisan producers and accelerate the demise in Europe of traditional ways of making and serving food, in favour of large industrial producers. "It is very upsetting. Haven't they already done enough damage to artisan products?," he said.

The European Commissions justification for the ban, under special Common Agriculture Policy regulations, is "hygiene" and to protect the "image of olive oil" with a measure that will benefit struggling industrial producers in Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

From the beginning of next year, Britain, which abstained during a vote of national food experts on the issues on Tuesday, must enforce the ban via local authority food inspections of restaurants.

Officials defended the ban as a protection for consumers who would know that they were getting a safe, guaranteed product with proper labelling of its origin and with tamper-proof, hygienic dispensers.

"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," said an official.

The idea that restaurant customers, who want to eat olive oil with their bread or to dress their food, could not distinguish between a fake product and the real thing was dismissed as patronising by Mr Clark.

"Customers aren't stupid - they would be the first to know if someone was being dishonest," he said.

The decision, which will be automatically adopted by the commission in next few days, has dismayed many officials who are concerned that a ban crafted to help industry will damage the reputation of the EU at a time of growing hostility to Brussels bureaucrats.

"This is sort of thing that gets the EU a deservedly bad name. I shouldn't say so but I hope people disobey this ban," said an official.

"It will seem bonkers that olive oil jugs must go while vinegar bottles or refillable wine jugs can stay."

Responding to the ban, Martin Callanan MEP, the leader of the European Conservative and Reformist group, asked: "Is it April 1st?".

"With the euro crisis, a collapse in confidence in the EU, and a faltering economy surely the commission has more important things to worry about than banning refillable olive oil bottles? They should be seeking to reduce unnecessary packaging," he said.

A Defra spokesperson said: “While we welcome some of the new rules on improved labelling, we did not support this ban as it will likely lead to unnecessary waste and place added burdens on businesses.

“We will continue to work with the catering industry to help them adapt to these changes.”