Italian farmers’ lobby strikes again on food labelling

The Coldiretti lobby strikes again. An amendment to the Deregulation Bill just approved in the Italian Senate provides “the obligation to indicate the country of origin in the food labels limited to cases where its omission can mislead the consumer about the country of origin or to the real place of origin of the food”. It sounds very bureaucratic and also very ambiguous for a deregulation law. Let’s try to understand what it means and how it affects the food sector.

For a long time, Coldiretti has been putting political pressures for this new regulation on labeling, claiming the situation for the agri-food sector is tragic (which is not true since the sector is still growing, even in 2019, over 2%). Why? They like domestic protectionism, according to which “Made in Italy” must be defended by law. Do they know that an even more complicated labeling system is not favorable for business purposes and has huge costs for small companies?

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The Senate accommodated them, but then it is a sop. The new labeling system has been extended to other categories of food, but it is mandatory only in some cases, i.e., when there are concrete risks of misleading consumers. Who will decide whether a deception happens or not? Consumers? Farmers? Certainly not. Obviously, the Ministry bureaucrats after consulting the economic parties involved in the sector.

Furthermore, the measure applies, in particular, when information accompanying the food or contained in the label as a whole could otherwise suggest that the food has a different country of origin or place of provenance. In other words: false declarations. Do we need a new ad hoc law to punish a crime already prosecutable by law? NO!

It is yet another Coldiretti’s flag to wave to its angry membership. The agri-food sector is healthy. A small amendment will not change anything. Companies that produce true “Made in Italy” food already use special labels and are competitive with their quality. They do not need to lobby the Parliament; this is true excellence!

For Free Choice aims to promote scientific information and method in public discourse. For Free Choice also defends consumers’ choice rights against the smear and demonizing campaigns which aim to confuse them and benefit specific interests.

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