|Unmarked, refillable olive oil bottles like these are no longer allowed in bars and restaurants. © Michelle Chaplow|
As of 1 March 2014, restaurants are not allowed to have aceiteras - the typical bottles of olive oil we're all so used to seeing on the table, as used for the classic Andalucian breakfast - tostada con aceite, tomate y jamon (toast with olive oil, tomato and jamon - iberico, naturally).
The new law actually came into effect on 1 January 2014, but there was a two-month period of grace, for all establishments to make necessary preparations to comply with the new regulations, which is now over. As of last week, restaurants and bars must use olive oil bottles which cannot be refilled or reused, and which clearly show branding and labelling to indicate the origin of the oil. The aim of this new legislation to protect customers from being defrauded by restaurants using inferior quality oils.
Similar measures are already in place in Portugal and Italy. Restaurants which fail to comply with this new law will be fined: 600 to 15,000 euros for serious offences, and 15,000 to 60,000 euros for very grave infractions. The environmental effects are bound to be severe, with many more small glass bottles being thrown away (or recycled, at least, one hopes) after use, as well increased costs for consumers.