Origin of wheat in pasta, Italian decree notified to Brussels

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Origin of wheat in pasta. Minister Maurizio Martina made it a trio with mandatory labeling of milk, rice and wheat. And he will be able to play poker by playing the easiest card of all, the origin of the meat in the restaurant. (1)

The grain origin decree had been the subject of a tug-of-war in 2016 between the Economic Development and Agricultural Ministries. A outcome of the so-called wheat battle, which flared up last July.

On 12.5.2017, Italy notified Brussels of the outline of ‘Interministerial Decree concerning the indication of origin on labels of durum wheat for durum wheat semolina pasta, implementing Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011, on the provision of food information to consumers‘ (V. Attached Outline DM wheat origin_12May sent to Brux).

Origin of wheat in pasta, the decree

In the foreword, the Common Customs Code (2) and EU Regulation 1169/11, on consumer information on food products, are recalled. The so-called FIR, Food Information Regulation, which is particularly relevant in the two parts where:

– the European Commission has been delegated (3) to submit a report on the advisability of extending mandatory indication of origin on single-ingredient foods, i.e., with one primary ingredient (>50%),

– the Commission received delegated authority to define criteria for information on the origin of the primary ingredient when it does not coincide with the declared ‘Made in’. (4)

But nothing has been done in Brussels to ensure transparency on food origin, despite repeated calls from the European Parliament. And that is why member states have taken action, in Italy as in France.

Wheat origin labeling

The labels of durum wheat semolina pasta (5) must state:

(a)‘Wheat growing country‘,

(b)‘Country of milling,’ meaning the country where the durum wheat semolina was obtained (Article 2).

In the case of‘grains grown or semolina obtained in more than one country‘ the use of ‘EU’, ‘non-EU’, ‘EU and non-EU’, as appropriate, is allowed (Art. 3).

With a simplification that will enhance the selections made in Italian pasta factories. If at least 50 percent of the wheat used was grown in a single national territory, the name of that country may be given followed by the words ‘and other countries … ‘ (‘EU, ‘non-EU,’ ‘EU and non-EU’).

Entries on the origin of the grain must be‘placed on the label in a prominent place and in the same field of view (6) so that they are easily visible and clearly readable. They are not in any way hidden, obscured, restricted, or separated from other written or graphic indications or other elements likely to interfere‘ (Article 4).

The decree will obviously not apply to pastas produced in other member states in compliance with common standards. And it will cease to be effective on December 30, 2020. (7) That is, if the WTO axe does not fall on it first, following fierce disputes by the U.S. and Canada.

Dario Dongo

Notes
(1) The origin of meat in the restaurant is the only indisputable measure, since it insists on matters under the exclusive jurisdiction of the member states
(2) reg. EU 952/13, Article 60
(3) reg. EU 1169/11, Art. 26.5
(4) That is, with the origin of the product, which is attributed to the country where it underwent its last substantial processing. V. reg. EU 1169/11, Art. 26.3
(5) The decree applies ‘to the durum wheat food pastas referred to in Presidential Decree Feb. 9, 2001, no. 187, excluding the pastes referred to in Articles 9 and 12 of the same Presidential Decree 187/2001
(6) Which field of view, however, is not specified. As would have been helpful for uniform application of the rule. As well as to limit the arbitrariness of supervisory bodies.
(7) A stratagem already used in the decrees on milk and rice origin, to reduce the risk of challenge by the Commission and other member states