ITALY INTRODUCES MANDATORY ORIGIN LABELLING FOR RICE AND DURUM WHEAT PASTA

On August 16 and 17, Italy has published two decrees which will require the mandatory labelling of the origin of rice and the origin of durum wheat used in durum wheat pasta. Manufacturers and distributors have until February 2018 to adapt their labelling to the newly introduced rules.

The Decrees are introduced as an experiment and will temporarily apply until end of 2020. Although, products manufactured or distributed in other member states are exempted from the obligation to provide the country of origin, the obligation will clearly create a noticeable distinction between Italian and non or only partly Italian produce. The Decree on durum wheat pasta, requires Italian dry pasta to label both the country where the wheat was cultivated and the country of milling. The Decree on the origin labelling of rice requires the indication of the country of cultivation, the country of elaboration and the country of packaging.

Although Italy had notified the initiative earlier this year, the adoption came as a surprise. The draft decrees had been communicated in accordance with article 45 of the Food Information to Consumers Regulation (Regulation 1169/2011), but before the Commission had adopted a final position Italy had repealed the notification. That way, Italy avoided anticipated objections as member states are divided over the benefits of origin labelling. Implementing rules on origin labelling are foreseen by article 26 of Regulation 1169/2011. The blunt manoeuvre is likely to spark the debate. While origin labelling increases transparency for consumers it conflicts with the level playing field the single market is supposed to establish. All eyes are on the Commission on how it will deal with this hot potato.

The full text of Decreto 26 luglio 2017 Indicazione dell’origine in etichetta del riso (Indication of the origin in the labelling of rice) has been published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale of 16 August 2017.

The full text of Decreto 26 luglio 2017 Indicazione dell’origine, in etichetta, del grano duro per paste di semola di grano duro (Indication of origin in the labelling of durum wheat for semolina pasta from durum wheat) has been published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale of 17 August 2017.