ICQRF, checks 2017


After reviewing the Ministry of Health’s report on the

official public controls

conducted on the food chain in 2016, and the review of cases handled by the Antitrust Authority in the period 2008-2016, we proceed to the detailed analysis on the report of the activities conducted by the


2017. (1)

ICQRF, checks 2017

The ICQRF-Department of the Central Inspectorate for the Protection of Quality and Fraud Repression of Agri-food Products, at the MiPAAF-has published on 6.2.18 the report on its inspection activities in the 2017 fiscal year.

The activities of the Inspectorate focuses on countering the food fraud (2) and to the phenomena of counterfeiting, both explicit and implicit (Italian sounding). With the primary objective of protecting Made in Italy., in Italy and around the world. And special attention to quality schemes (PDO, PGI), in the interest of the respective supply chains instead neglected by Europe, and consumers.

ICQRF, controls in Italy in 2017

ICQRF controls in Italy are really important. 53,733 inspections conducted, including 40,857 inspections and 12,876 laboratory tests.

Food products accounted for 88 percent of the inspections, while 12 percent involved technical means dedicated to agriculture. Seeds, pesticides and fertilizers, feed.

Findings of irregularities-which affected 26.8 percent of operators, 15.7 percent of products and 7.8 percent of samples analyzed-led to the following measures:

– 455 crime reports forwarded to judicial activity,

– 3,715 administrative challenges,

– 963 seizures,

– 22,228 tons of goods seized, valued at more than 100 million euros.

Controls on PDO, PGI and TSG products account for 10 percent of the total (5,224) and half of the crime reports (226). On wines with geographical indications, 7,199 checks checked and irregularities exceeded 30 percent (6 percent irregularity on samples).

We now focus on the 4 most controlled sectors, wine (34 percent of controls), oils (14.6 percent), meat (12.2 percent) and dairy (8.2 percent).


13,951 product inspections, 7,708 operators involved. Irregularities found on 23% of products and 38.9% of operators. The offenses concern:

– fraud on PDO and PGI wines that do not meet the requirements set out in the specifications,

– Sophistication of table wines by watering down and sugaring,

– Presence of undeclared dyes in flavored wine,

– IGT wines declared to be from organic farming with residues of plant protection products.

Olive oils

5,970 checks on 3,853 operators. Irregularities on 19.6 percent of businesses and 12.8 percent of oils (9.8 percent of the 427 samples panel tested). Most widespread violations:

– Extra virgin olive oil downgraded to virgin category following chemical and/or organoleptic analysis,

– Counterfeiting of oil sold as extra virgin olive oil, instead found to be seed oil colored with chlorophyll,

– Extra virgin olive oil with fraudulent variety claims,

– Declared organic oil with residues of plant protection products,

– Violation of the rules of labeling and presentation of olive oils for omission of mandatory indications and the misleading use of designation of origin.


3,349 checks on 2,429 operators. Irregularities in 21.2% of enterprises and 13.5% of products. Case history:

– Illegal use of dehydroacetic acid as a coating agent on cheese rinds,

– generic cheeses and sometimes even PDO cheeses with unpermitted or undeclared preservatives,

– sheep and buffalo cheeses with illicit addition of cow’s milk;

– string cheese and butter with fats foreign to milk (!),

– Violation of dairy product labeling and presentation regulations for omission of mandatory claims, irregular optional information, misleading designations of origin.

Meat and meat products

4,975 checks on 1,893 operators of which as many as 44.9 percent were found to be irregular. 15.1% of products and 16.2% of samples out of compliance. Flaws:

– Use of pigs that do not comply with the PDO ham production specification,

– Pork preparations with impermissible or undeclared additives,

– Irregularly labeled cooked ham due to omission or incorrect indication of ingredients used,

– Irregular labeling of meat and meat preparations, for use of misleading wording,

– Irregularities in the meat traceability system.

In all other commodity sectors outside the scope of this in-depth study-e.g., cereals and their derivatives, eggs, canned vegetables, honey, sugars, spirits, animal feed, fertilizers, seeds, and plant protection products-nonconformities related to labeling, including with reference to optional wording, are dominant.

Protection of
Made in Italy,
in the world and on the web

The protection of

Made in Italy

worldwide and especially on the web is perhaps the most distinctive activity of the ICQRF’s work. A

mission impossible

, some would say, since the counterfeiting of Italian food is widespread on every continent and achieves business volumes that are difficult even to estimate, which is assumed to be at least equal to the exports of real Made in Italy (41 billion euros in 2017, according to Istat).

Theexperience gained

on the

geographical indications

(PDOs and PGIs) has enabled the Inspectorate to develop a working system with three lines of action:

– as the designated authority for controls on Geographical Indications, the ICQRF carries out interventions aimed at stopping the illicit use of Italian geographical indications in Europe,

– as the Italian liaison body with other member states’ authorities designated for wine sector controls, the Inspectorate protects Italian DO and IG wines. In Europe and on the Web,

– through collaboration with global e-commerce players, the Fraud Repression ensures to the extent possible that fake Italian products are also displayed for sale on the web.

Web investigations are an impervious task, as mentioned in the report itself. (3) And the Inspectorate’s cooperation with Ebay, Amazon and Alibaba is still in its infancy, with 295 interventions in 2017 (226 on Ebay, 37 on Amazon, 32 on Alibaba). The infringements detected on the web involved the following products in more than half of the cases: prosecco (46 cases), Parmigiano Reggiano DOP (41), Prosciutto di Parma DOP (41), and Sicilian extra virgin olive oil (30).

So much valuable work, and just as much to do with best wishes!

Dario Dongo and Tommaso Di Paolo


(1) ICQRF Report 8.2.18 is available in Italian, English and Chinese languages at www.politicheagricole.it

(2) The phenomenon of food fraud is addressed and combated in Italy with a deployment of authorities and resources, investigative and repressive tools unparalleled in the world. The European Commission, on the other hand, as we have repeatedly denounced, has yet to institute the necessary due process rules to ensure a European framework and harmonized procedures to combat fraud. See in this regard the article https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/fipronil-e-frodi-in-ue-il-bluff

(3) The reg. EU 2017/625 on official public controls in the food chain, among other things, expressly provided for official public control activities on the web

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