Spanish olive oil ordered off Yemeni markets [Archives:2002/07/Business & Economy]

February 11 2002

By Mujahed al-Musabi
There is no cancer threat in Spanish olive oil exported to Yemen and other parts of the Middle East, say Spanish officials.
Still, Spains government has requested that Yemen remove Spanish olive oil from its markets until further notice.
In co-operation with the Spanish foreign commercial center, officials from the Spanish Olive Oil Exporters Association held a press conference at the Taj Sheba Hotel last week in order to alleviate fears that their oil is cancer-causing.
Speaking during the Arabian Food Cuisine Festival, a festival promoting the virtues of Arabian food, spokesman Santiago Botas noted that Middle East markets are important for the association, and consumers need to be aware of the health benefits of olive oil from Spain
This festival is an ideal chance to speak about benefits of the olive oil which has been proven by scientific research. Yemen is neither the first nor the last stop in our promotion, said Botas, a consultant to the Olive Oil Exports Association of Spain.
Before its promotional tour is over, the Spanish oil association will go to 12 different hotels in the GGC and Egypt.
Regarding the cancer issue, Botas said there are many kinds of the Spanish olive oil such as, virgin olive oil, extra-virgin olive oil and lampante oil.
The olive oil that may cause cancer, however, is very different, he said. Known as Thomas olive oil, its extracts are different, and under high temperature of refining, they produce an element called pensio vorine.
Its believed a large amount of this element may cause cancer.
When we discovered that there is high percentage of this pensio in some Spanish markets, the concerned Spanish authorities decided to withdraw all the remaining Spanish oil from the markets to check the percentage of pensio vorine, said Botas.
At this time there are no international limitations of the permitted percentage of pensio vorine.
Alwan Shebani, honoree council for Spain, confirmed the Spanish government has asked Yemen to remove the Spanish olive oil from the Yemeni markets until further notice.
Spanish olive oil consumers should know that our product is subject to very strict restrictions, to guarantee that our product is maintaining the highest international standards, added Botas.
Spain has 250 million olive trees covering more than two million hectares. Average annual production is about 800,000 tones, a third of the worlds total production. The Arabic food festival runs to Feb. 11.
Abdu alrahman Terkawi, vice chairman of the commercial office in the Spanish Embassy in Riad, launched the conference, thanking the Taj Sheba staff for their support for the food festival.