Italian beer, new regulations


Legislative Decree 231/17-which implements in Italy Reg. EU 1169/11, in addition to the relevant sanctions – repeals the specific provisions already provided for in Leg. 109/92 in relation to different foods. (1) The case of Italian beer.

Italian beer, the prevailing regulations

The historic ‘labeling decree’, d.lgs. 109/92, in Article 19, defined the quality criteria that different types of


produced in Italy, in order to be marketed under the respective names of the food


– ‘the designation “non-alcoholic beer” is reserved for the product with a Plato degree of not less than 3 and not more than 8 and an alcoholic strength by volume of not more than 1.2 percent,

– ‘the designation “light beer” or “light beer” is reserved for the product with a degree Plato of not less than 5 and not more than 10.5 and an alcoholic strength by volume of more than 1.2 percent and not more than 3.5 percent,

– the designation “beer” is reserved for the product with a Plato degree of more than 10.5 and an alcoholic strength by volume of more than 3.5 percent; such product may be called “special beer” if the Plato degree is not less than 12.5 and “double malt beer” if the Plato degree is not less than 14.5,

when fruit, fruit juices, flavorings, or other characterizing food ingredients are added to beer, the sales name shall be completed with the name of the characterizing substance‘. (2)

Italian beer legislation to date has been the strictest on a planetary level in prescribing quality levels-expressed in Plato degree, that is, that saccharometric index that expresses the amount of dry matter (malt) used in production-of each category of beverage.

Italian beer and European beers compared

The principle of free movement of goods, on the foundations of which the European Union was built, has always precluded Italy from imposing the quality requirements prescribed on Italian beer on beverages legally manufactured in other member countries (e.g., Austria, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands).

Italian brewers therefore suffered serious discrimination, finding themselves competing with foreign operators who could use the same names to sell lower quality beers. (3)

Italian beer, the new regulations

Legislative Decree. 231/17 Expressly repeals Leg. 109/92, outside of only the provision regarding theobligation to cite the location of the establishment on the labels of food products made and sold in Italy.

The quality requirements for beers brewed in Italy, which were stipulated at the time, therefore lapse. With the likely consequence that the quality of the cheapest cervogy-the ‘first price,’ in trade jargon-will be aligned downward, on a par with the cheap foreign beer hitherto sold in the Bel Paese’s discount stores.

Italian beer production

still maintains a top position, in Europe and in the world

, precisely in terms of quality. And the reform will certainly not be able to affect the quality of the water (the first ingredient used), nor the brewing tradition that from Pedavena has set the standard on the old continent. Nor on the formidable growth of Made in Italy craft beers..

The Plato grade, however, remains an essential indicator of beer quality, which deserves to be indicated on the label-though on a voluntary basis-and understood, by consumAtors, to distinguish the most valuable beverages.

Dario Dongo


(1) See Legislative Decree. 231/17, Article 30. Regarding the repeals of regulations on milk, butter, and string cheese (e.g., the

mozzarella) see the articles


(2) Cf. d.lgs. 109/92, Article 19, replacing Article 2 of Law no. 1354/62, as already replaced by Art. 2, DPR 272/1998

(3) With the aggravating factor that excise taxes on beers brewed in Italy are applied to Plato degree rather than alcohol content. As a result, with the same alcohol content, foreign brewers to date have been able to make beers with lower production costs and taxation


+ posts

Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.