EUROPE – Origin of raw materials, the Commission proposes to maintain the ‘status quo’

olio-industria

On the 20th May 2015, the European Commission published the report on the country of origin or place of origin indication of unprocessed foods, of products based on a single ingredient and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a food , as well as the origin of milk and some meats.

The ' Food Information to Consumers' Regulation, we would like to remind readers, had in fact delegated the EU executive to present to the European Parliament and the Council a series of reports in which – taking into account the interests of the representatives of the industry (agricultural production and imports, industrial processing , distribution, consumers) – they would consider the possibility of extending the obligation of indicating the origin of some products, and the origin of some raw materials, on the labels of foodstuffs (1) .

SANTE' General Directorates (former DG SANCO) and AGRI – after assessing the irrelevance of the origin of the meat used as an ingredient in other products (e.g. Sausages, lasagne, meat sauce) (LINK AD ARTICOLO PRECEDENTE) – have repeated the already known as well as predictable scheme. With regard to the indication of origin of unprocessed foods (2) , single-ingredient products (e.g. Coffee, barley and cereals in general, fruit juices, etc.) and ingredients that represent more than 50% of a product (e.g. cereals into flour, vegetable in canned and frozen food), Brussels has in fact recognized that the information on the origin of raw materials has less influence on the purchasing decisions with regard to factors such as price, organoleptic properties, durability, and ease of use (so-called ' convenience' ).

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According to interviewed consumers, moreover, the ' Made in' ( www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette-alimentari/etichette-trasparenti ) and the place of cultivation of raw materials hold the same importance; in some specific cases, the former element indeed has a higher value than the latter. Under the ' divide and rule' , in short it is a spariglio card game. As a result, the cost- benefit analysis also brings in this case to conclude that the present system appears to be the best option, as it does not affect costs nor, therefore, sales prices. Without any prejudice to the right of consumers to choose products with specific origins, nor impediment to free trade within and outside the European Union.

Fate seems therefore that of voluntary origin labeling, associated with the existing regimes of mandatory origin labeling for specific foods or categories of foods (3) . From Brussels no legislative proposal, except the prospect of subsequent rulings of the European Parliament.

Dario Dongo


Notes:

(1)   EU Reg. 1169/11, article 26.5
(2)  Given a closer look, almost all unprocessed products are already subject to compulsory mentioning of the origin on the basis of the applicable sector-specific European and national norms. This applies, for example, to fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, honey, eggs.
(3)  In addition to the product categories cited in the previous note, we would like to highlight the specific predictions indicating the origin of pressed olives used to produce virgin oils, meat of various animal species to which in Italy tomato sauce and fresh milk are added.

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