EUROPE - Origin of raw materials, the Commission proposes to maintain the 'status quo'

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

The rules 'Food Information to Consumers', it is recalled, he had in fact delegated the EU executive to submit to the European Parliament and the Council a series of reports in which - taking into account the interests of the representatives of the supply chain (agricultural production and import, industrial transformation, distribution, consumers) - consider the opportunity to extend the obligation to indicate the origin of some products, and the provenance of some raw materials, on the labels of food products (1).

The General Directorates SANTE '(formerly DG SANCO) and AGRI - after having assessed the irrelevance of the origin of the meat used as an ingredient in other products (eg cured meats, lasagna, ragù) - repeated the already known and predictable pattern. Regarding the indication of origin of unprocessed foods (2), mono-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 in flours, vegetables in preserves and frozen foods), Brussels has in fact, it was found that information on the origin of raw materials has a lower influence - in purchasing choices - than factors such as price, organoleptic properties, durability, and ease of use (so-called 'convenience') .

corn field

Furthermore, according to the consumers interviewed, the 'Made in' ( and the place of cultivation of the raw material would have the same importance; in some concrete cases, the first element would even have a higher value than the second. Under the banner of 'Divide et impera', in short, you play the game of cards. Consequently, the cost - benefit analysis concludes also in this case to believe that the current regime is the best option, as it does not affect costs or therefore sales prices. Without prejudice to consumers' powers to choose products with specific origins, nor to hinder free trade inside and outside the European Union.

The fate would therefore appear to be that of optional origin labeling, associated with the current mandatory origin labeling regimes for specific foods or categories of foods. (3). No legislative proposals from Brussels, except for the waiting for the subsequent pronouncements of the European Parliament.

Dario Dongo


(1) EU Reg. 1169/11, article 26.5
(2) On closer inspection, almost all unprocessed products are already subject to the obligation to mention the origin on the basis of the European and national regulations of the sector. This applies to fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, honey, eggs, for example
(3) In addition to the product categories mentioned in the previous note, we recall the specific indications of the origin of the olives pressed to produce virgin oils, the meats of various animal species, to which are added in Italy the tomato purees and the fresh milk