Official food controls in Italy, 2016 data


Official food and beverage controls in Italy, 2016 data

The Ministry of Health
– Directorate General for Food Hygiene and Safety and Nutrition – transmitted to Parliament on December 15, 2017, the report on official public controls conducted in 2016 on the food chain.

The supervisory and analytical activities

conducted by the many competent authorities are in fact


to which it provides, among other things, annual reporting on the controls performed. And to the planning on a three-year basis of those to follow, based on identified risks.

Official public controls, the competent authorities

Who does what? To better understand the scenario of official controls in Italy and the data presented in the 2016 report, it seems useful to recall the roles of the competent authorities. In relation to both foodstuffs arriving from all parts of the world (with domestic and foreign destinations) and those made in Italy.

Ministry of Health. Regular checks on all operators, based on risks identified in relation to food categories, raw materials and ingredients, positions within the supply chain, and processing methods. More generally, in light of any reports or well-founded concerns of potential food safety concerns,

Anti Adulteration Unit (NAS). Inspection, investigation and sampling activities, in support of the Health Administration,

ASL. Controls on primary agricultural production, processing and packaging, wholesale and retail distribution, transportation and logistics, catering (public, collective and welfare), and direct sales,

Offices of maritime, air and border health (USMAF). Import controls on food of non-animal origin,

Border Inspection Posts (BIPs). Import controls on food of animal origin,

Veterinary Community Compliance Offices (UVAC).. Controls on intra-EU trade in animal products,

Central Inspectorate of Quality Protection and Fraud Repression of Agri-food Products


, at Mi.P.A.A.F. Official checks on quality productions (e.g., PDO, PGI), actions to protect the

Made in Italy

agribusiness in the world and on the web,

Finance Guard (GdF). Criminal police activities and investigations in the economic-financial field, with special focus on agribusiness fraud,

Customs and Monopolies Agency. Targeted import controls.

The geography of controls
in Italy is complex, taking into account also the territorial levels – central, regional, local – on which they are carried out.

Import controls in Italy, 2016 data

Products of non-animal origin. Checks on consignments of non-animal origin carried out by USMAF led to 7,085 inspection checks, with 4,855 samples taken for analytical purposes (out of 148,050 consignments).

Nonconformities (0.20 percent) were mainly related to the presence of aflatoxins, pesticides, pesticides and salmonella.

Animal products.Among the consignments of animal origin that passed through BIPs (about 40,000), the samplings performed have (1,774, 4.4 percent of the total) exceeded the programmed levels (3 percent).

Sampling largely (82 percent) involved fishery and aquaculture products, shellfish and crustaceans.

Intra-EU trade in animals, animal products and by-products. 2016 Data

Intracommunity trade showed a flow of animals and commodities 46 times higher than that of imports from third countries. To
2,085,814 consignments were reported, of which 1,927,866 involved animal products for human consumption.

There are only 7,796 (0.40 percent) batches subjected to documentary and physical inspection. Laboratory analysis of 3,617 samples, 77 batches rejected. The rejections mainly involved seafood and pork products.

Nationwide checks, 2016 data

ASL inspections produced the following data:

– 275,382 units subject to ASL control,

– 54,141 infractions detected during inspections (19.1% of cases),

– 56.3 percent of irregularities came from the restaurant industry,

– 20.8 percent from distribution, wholesale and retail.

Infringements mainly concern general hygiene (44.1 percent) and HACCP system irregularity (27.5 percent).


NAS reports

confirm the problems detected in catering


– 56,400 checks carried out,

– 11,144 noncompliances detected (33%),

– 41% of irregularities come from the restaurant industry,

– 37 percent from the bread and pasta sectors.

Allegations of crime increased, from 2,900 in 2015 to 3,300 in 2016. The most common offense (28%), possession and serving of food in poor condition.

The seizures
reached record levels, more than 65 million liters of beverages and kilograms of food and about 27 thousand head of livestock.

Administrative penalties have instead decreased significantly, partly due to the Italian government’s serious delay in adopting a penalty framework for violations of EU Regulation 1169/11. (1) Thus, labeling irregularities account for 10 percent of the offenses, dominated instead by hygienic structural deficiencies (69 percent).

Official analysis, 2016 data

The activity of reference laboratories for official analysis has dropped dramatically over the past 4 years. By two-thirds, from about 124,000 samples in 2012 to 40,000 in 2016 (sic!). An average of 2.47 analytical determinations were made on each sample, for a total of 98,995 analyses.

Comforting news That analytical nonconformities were only 931, 0.94%. Predominantly on foods of animal origin.

Made in Italy
, checks 2016

The ICQRF has intervened on ecommerce platforms in 971 cases to counter illicit evocations, name usurpations and counterfeits of Italian PDOs. Parmesan cheese, followed by prosecco, are the most widely counterfeited typical products.

In 2016, the ICQRF
carried out 21,365 checks-detecting 17.3 percent of irregular products-and 4,329 analyses, with unfavorable results in 7.4 percent of cases.

Checks in Italy on PDO, PGI and TSG products have shown little encouraging data:

– 20.5 percent irregularities on olive oils,

– 15.7 percent in the dairy sector,

– 29.6% on meat and meat products.

As for wines, 21.2 percent of the products were found to be irregular with respect to the parameters defined in the respective production specifications, that is, in terms of qualitative-quantitative composition and compliance with legal provisions.


The scenario outlined in the Ministry of Health report shows the effectiveness and pervasiveness of official public controls in Italy. Which stand out favorably from the European average.

If the data – in this regard-appear comforting, the need for a systematic reordering of food law in Italy becomes apparent. In line with common requirements, without losing sight of the needs for legal certainty and at the same time the effectiveness and deterrence of the relevant penalty regimes.

To the government to come, whichever side he is on, it is therefore worthwhile to reintroduce the demands made at the time to the outgoing executive. (3)

Tommaso Di Paolo and Dario Dongo


(1) The legislative decree on penalties for violations of Reg. EU 1169/11, so-called Food Information Regulation, was indeed approved 6 years late. His analysis in a trilogy, on



(2) It is worth recalling, in this regard, the inability of the European Commission to develop an adequate program to combat food fraud.

For further discussion, please refer to our ebook ‘Food Safety, Mandatory Rules and Voluntary Standards,’ at

(3) With special regard to the need to implement an Italian food code, referred to in item 4 of Article

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