Latest news on mandatory origin labelling for pasta in Italy
In Italy, Decree July 26th, 2017 has established mandatory origin labelling for wheat on pasta labels. The decree was published on August 17th, 2017 and will be applicable beginning February 2018.
The decree establishes that domestic pasta producers will have to label the origin of wheat on pasta labels.
The compulsory origin indication of the wheat will need to address two aspects of the wheat production: the country of cultivation, and the country of milling, by indicating the name of the country or “EU”, “non EU”, and “EU/non EU”.
Several Italian pasta producers challenged the decree and asked for the provisional suspension and the annulment of the decree.
In order to suspend the Decree, two criteria were needed: fumus boni iuris and the periculum in mora.
On Nov. 22, 2017, TAR del Lazio, the first degree judicial authority, issued the ruling on the provisional suspension, rejecting the request on the following grounds.
Article 26 (8) of Regulation (EC) No. 1169/2011 provides that the Commission shall adopt provisions on origin information on food labels when the country of origin of a product is different from that of its primary ingredients (example: Italian pasta made with Canadian wheat). The Commission has not yet adopted these measures.
The contested Decree provides, in Art. 7 paragraph 2, that the effects of the decree will cease when the EU rules will be adopted. In the opinion of the court, this clause in the Italian decree is sufficient to overcome any alleged conflict with EU law.
The decision also denies that the Decree’s prescriptions could create problems for the free movement of goods, since the provisions are imposed only on domestic producers.
Moreover, the ruling considers it sufficient that the Decree was notified to the EU after its publication on the Italian Official Journal (stately, on Sept. 8, 2017), on the grounds that the notification was made plenty of time before the rules will actually apply to Italian producers.
The decision does not address the issue of the regulatory sanctions imposed with the decree, stating that the problem is not concrete and current, due to the fact that no sanction has been inflicted yet.
On the matter of the peril for producers, the decision recognises the fact that the producers may incur in several expenses in order to comply with the provisions of the decree, but when balanced with the public’s interest in knowing the country of origin of the wheat used to produce Italian pasta, it assessed the prevalence of the latter.
The ruling that rejects the request for the provisional suspension of the decree may be appealed. Also, the matter has yet to be discussed thoroughly in court during the annulment hearing.