A NEW government directive states that olive oil must now be served to restaurant customers in individual sachets or 25ml sealed botttles that cannot be refilled. Meals in restaurants should not become more expensive due to this new legislation, assured José Manuel Fernandes of the Associação da Restauração e Similares de Portugal (ARESP), the association of restaurants in Portugal.
Since January 11, restaurants and hotels have had to replace their old litre bottles of olive oil with smaller 25ml ones or with one-serving sachets. Any establishment found violating this order could face fines of between 750 euros to 44,000 euros. Mariana Matos, general secretary of Casa do Azeite (House of Olive Oil), said that since bottles are sealed and have a stopper that does not permit their refilling, they will be perfect to go to tables and customers will know exactly what brand of olive oil they will be consuming.
And peixe assado?
Beyond the cost to businesses, ARESP is worried about the implications to Portuguese gastronomy, in particular its popularity with tourists. “The roasted cod (bacalhau), for example, may disappear from menus, as hot olive oil is usually added at the table,” underlined Fernandes.
António Sousa, owner of a restaurant in Portimão, has already adopted the individual olive oil sachets. “It is more practical, hygienic and the clients are happier. It is true that it is a little more costly, but that is compensated by the fact that we can serve our clients in a better way as well as letting them know exactly what they are eating,” he said.
The owner of O Bruno restaurant in Faro has changed over to the smaller bottles since November. “I took advantage of a promotion on a certain brand of olive oil,” Fernando Almeida said. He agrees with the objective to improve service quality and the protection of the consumer. Nevertheless, he says the new rules have increased his expenses by 30 to 50 per cent.