Labels and the food supply chain, the National Order of Biologists takes stock


From the field to the test tube

‘, l’

National Order of Biologists

brought together institutions and supply chain representatives, on 3.4.18 in Bologna

. For broad sharing on the topic of food labels, between rules and controls, perspectives and opportunities. A meeting-riot, of which a brief summary is given.

‘Labels and the food supply chain’

, the National Order of Biologists

Vincenzo D’Anna, president of the National Order of Biologists (ONB), opened the proceedings by highlighting the multiple roles of the category in the entire course of the agribusiness chain. On the research front, where still Italy stands out in biotechnology and genomic research as in the development of products and analytical methods. As well as at the operational level, where the biologist works alongside other specialists throughout the entire course of public and private primary agricultural production, processing, distribution and inspection processes.

Stefania Papa,

board member of the Order of Biologists with responsibility for

food safety

, stressed the need to ensure that professionals receive specialized training appropriate to the different tasks performed throughout the supply chain, ‘from the fields to the test tube. Starting with work on security

and quality of drinking and process water.

, first matrix and vehicle of potential contamination.

The regulatory framework

of reference is extremely complex, as are the databases

more comprehensive show. And it is therefore imperative among the missions of the Order to offer suitable guidelines to deal with complexity. You have to follow a common thread that moves from ‘General Food Law‘ e ‘Hygiene Package‘ (1), to then explore the general and industry requirements that ensure food safety firstly, also in

‘Labeling and the food supply chain’

, the rules

Giorgia Andreis, an experienced food law attorney from the Court of Turin, introduced the subject of consumer information on food products. The ‘Food Information Regulation’ was thus shown in its essential logic, which considers the safety of food in relation to the accompanying information on the label. (2) Indeed, forensic practice shows the crucial nature ofallergen information, the omission of which is punishable by the most serious administrative penalties (up to 40 thousand euros), in addition to being able to integrate various criminal offenses. (3)

Loyalty and transparency of business practices-with particular regard to news offered on a voluntary basis on labels-is the piece that closes the circle. The task of the experienced industry lawyer is precisely to mediate instances and review marketing texts

Under the magnifying glass of compliance with standards and interpretations

in vogue.

Labels, advertising and official public controls

Antonio Iaderosa, ICQRF executive, focused on the crucial issues of information and transparency in the agribusiness supply chain. Highlighting the role of its organization-the first designated authority to official public controls on labels and advertising-in mitigating information asymmetry between the different links in the supply chain and the end consumer. By documentary and analytical verification of the news offered by the responsible operator.

If information is the lifeblood of an organization, the


allows her to enjoy

(Geert Jan Hofstede


90.9% of Italian consumers, 93% of young people, is passionate about food. Over 85% ‘informs himself about what he buys‘, 57 percent via the web (Censis, 2017). Nonetheless, the available information is often partial and not in compliance with the prescribed requirements (as the writer has complained to the ICQRF, as well as the Antitrust Authority (AGCM), in relation to distance sales on the Amazon Pantry site). And it is therefore that the ICQRF extends its controls ‘

from the field to the smartphone

‘, including distributors

, including through agreements with global ecommerce ‘players’


Carabinieri Command for the Protection of Agribusiness

Luigi Cortellessa, Colonel in charge of the Carabinieri Forestry, Environmental and Agribusiness Unit Command, laid out the mission of the military corps. The Command operates throughout the entire Italian territory – also in synergy with other control authorities (health administration and ICQRF, in particular) – with an exponential level of efficiency compared to the available resources, which are still unfortunately meager compared to the areas of protection. (4) The Legislative Decree. 177/16 in fact attributes to the Carabinieri Corps, preliminarily and exclusively, the specialty compartments to guarantee security on:

  • health, hygiene and food adulteration (NAS),
  • forestry, environmental and agribusiness.

The Command has the tasks of preventing and suppressing food fraud, as well as performing controls to ensure compliance with EU agroforestry and environmental regulations. In conjunction with food safety and biosafety controls. The Agri-food Protection Command is currently divided into five departments (the


of Turin, Parma

, Rome, Salerno, Messina) who coordinate operations throughout the country, also in conjunction with the territorial arms. (5)

Operating activity is growing on a net basis. Already in the first three months of 2019, inspections of 463 enterprises have resulted in more than 14 million euros in illicit financing prosecuted, 238 administrative violations, and 121 reports of offenses. 76 people charged, one arrest, and over 4,000 tons of goods seized. The ‘theme campaigns’, most recently conducted on the wine and oil supply chains, led to 83 and 67 administrative charges, 4 and 2 reports of crime, 390 thousand liters of wine and 46 tons of oil seized, respectively.

Perspectives of the ‘Italy supply chain’

Paola Tucciarone – liaison from the Legal Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Tourism (MiPAAFT)-updated participants on the hottest dossiers in Europe. The topic ofindication of origin

of ingredients on food labels, only partly

taken up in EU Regulation 2018/775

. And that of synthetic nutritional claims, the so-called traffic lights, which still see Italian government sided against the approach of ‘NutriScore‘ promoted by France, Spain and Belgium.

Nicola Calzolaro, director of Federalimentare, showed encouraging data on the export of Italian food products (+3% in 2018), in the face of a stagnation in domestic consumption that instead unfortunately persists. The Italian food industry (qualification given to companies with more than 9 employees) employs 385,000 people, of which 43% are in production, 22% in quality and 19% in commercial-marketing (source Federalimentare and Unioncamere). A hopeful sign for the biology profession as well. The sector processes about 70 percent of Italian agricultural production and invests in new supply chain contracts (including in durum wheat, a historic ‘casus belli‘). Nevertheless, the federation remains opposed to mandatory origin labeling.

Rolando Manfredini recalls Coldiretti’s record in Europe with 1.6 million members, 70 percent of agricultural enterprises registered with the Chambers of Commerce with absolute majority in terms of agricultural area, number of livestock raised and contribution to GDP. The Confederation boasts more than 4 thousand municipal sections and its system also includes 4 thousand cooperatives with 500 thousand members, a credit system (Creditagri Coldiretti) and the Campagna Amica Foundation. Campagna Amica gathers more than 11 thousand points – including farms, agritourisms, markets, stores and restaurants – subject to identical rules and part two audits. ‘

Italy supply chain

in turn brings together several dozen industrial giants, some of which are major importers of foreign agricultural commodities, among others. (6)

#EatORIGINAL! Unmask your food! is the European citizens’ initiative that Coldiretti supports with its #StopFoodAnonymous campaign, which Great Italian Food Trade (GIFT) is passionate about joining. It is imperative to enable European consumAtors to make informed and responsible purchasing choices. This implies the need to reform EU rules by introducing mandatory labeling:

– The origin and/or source of the primary ingredients,

– the location of the production plant, the only real means of safeguarding

Made in Italy

in Europe and the world.

A great opportunity to learn and share each other’s views, thanks to the ‘pivot‘ role of the Order of Biologists.

Dario Dongo


(1) See reg. EC 178/02 (General Food Law), reg. EC 852/04 et seq. (so-called Hygiene Package). For more details see the ebook ‘

‘Food safety, mandatory rules and voluntary standards.

‘, at

(2) See reg. EU 1169/11 (Food Information Regulation) and d.lgs. 231/17 on its implementation in Italy and related sanctions. On the subject, reference is made to the free ebook ‘1169 Penalties. Food news, controls and penalties’, on

(3) Primarily the misdemeanor offense under Law 283/62, Article 5. Special attention should also be paid to the so-called ‘.Precautionary Allergens Labelling‘. V.ò-contenere-allergeni-abc

(4) It should be noted well that Italian agribusiness production, in its extraordinary fragmentation, operates on 12.7 million hectares of Utilized Agricultural Area (UAA), of which 6.6 are arable land

(5) The CC Comando per la Tutela Agroalimentare, part of COLAF (Comitato per la Lotta alle Frodi contro l’UE, DPR 91/07 art. 3, l. 234/12, art. 54), participates in CNAC (Consiglio Nazionale Anti-Contraffazione, at Mi.S.E.) and PNI (Piano Integrato dei Controlli, Min. Sal, reg. EU 2017/625). In synergy with, among others, MiPAAFT, ICQRF and AGEA, OLAF Europol and Interpol, Customs and Monopolies Agency

(6) One foot in the boot of Coldiretti and the other in the lace-up shoe of Confindustria, confederations that still express antinomian positions on the issue of origin on labels. In the name of the mutually shared battle against nutrient profiling And policies for the prevention of obesity, overweight and related diseases. So much for the health of Italian children