EUROPE – Origin of milk, of horse meat and game

On the 20th May 2015, the European Commission, as mentioned, has filed a report on the origin of the raw materials of mono-ingredient food, of those with a primary ingredient (> 50%) and unprocessed foods. But also a report on the origin of milk, milk used as an ingredient in dairy products and various types of bovine meat, swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat. Again, nothing new on the western front.

In Italy, in hindsight, for ten years there has been an obligation (1) to indicate the milking area or premises of origin for fresh milk only. This has not caused major disruptions to the production chain, nor led to an increase in costs or prices for consumers. And indeed unfortunately, this attempt to exploit the milk of our country was of little account compared to the serious damage caused to farms by the Italian reform of the CAP (2), reckless and improvident reform for this sector.


The report of Brussels has also considered a broader context, the origin of the milk – fresh and UHT – as well as the milk used as an ingredient in dairy products. A perspective of great depth for all dairy products whose 'supply-chain' is not already controlled under the specifications of the numerous DOPs (e.g. Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, and many other cheeses). Of particular concern to consumers, in order to distinguish, for instance, true mozzarella from that made with frozen curds from Northern and Eastern Europe.

The same report also considers the possibility of extending the mandatory indication of origin of meat species that in Europe are still lacking (3), namely horses, rabbits and hares, ostriches and quails, game. A hypothesis of no small importance after the pan-European scandal of horse meat – racing horses too (!) – found through DNA analysis on a wide range of products and ready meals in all parts of Europe, shortly after the publication of the c.d. FIR, 'Food Information Regulation' (4).


But not even the experience of the ' galloping lasagne ' and 'horse in the sauce' were enough to stir up the inaction of the Commission that – after the usual feasibility study on the various options available for the mandatory food origin citing on labels – has once again proposed to maintain the 'status quo'. In the wake of the previous reports, Brussels has repeated the usual game. Given the interest of consumers to receive more information about the provenance of the food offered to them, potential charges and additional costs for companies and public authorities were estimated.

Without even mentioning the benefits in terms of increased food safety assurance, which is associated with measures and more stringent controls on goods traceability, the EU executive has therefore concluded that 'it is not worth it'. Consumer prices would rise by more than the consumer propensity to pay a premium in order to obtain further information. The Commission suggests to maintain a voluntary approach. It might just be a coincidence, or maybe not, recently the US Congress voted for the cancellation of the obligation to indicate the origin of meat (5).

Dario Dongo


(1) See. D.M May 27, 2004, D.M. January 14, 2005
(2) Common Agricultural Policy
(3) Special provisions are in fact established for both beef (reg. EC 1760/2000, 1825/2000), and for sheep and goats, pigs and poultry (EU reg. 1337/2013)

(4) EU Reg. 1169/11