Palm oil-free, ministry approves label

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‘Palm oil-free’, perhaps the most popular message on food labels for the past couple of years, also receives the green light from Mi.S.E. On a par with other indications such as ‘Free from…’, in compliance with the general criteria on consumer information and fair trade practices.

The champions of Made in Italy have been able to respond to growing consumer awareness of healthy, good and fair food. In keeping with Italian food culture and the Mediterranean diet, which with the bloody tropical fat have nothing to do with it, they have eliminated it from their products. Rejecting any false theorem about its asserted sustainability.

The palmocrats, finding that lobbying and disinformation had failed, thus sought to infer the illegality of the ‘Palm Oil Free’ claim on the label. Malaysia had tried this in Expo, and so had an industry trade association. With arguments then curiously taken up by Codacons.

 

It is therefore necessary to provide clarity on the rules that apply in Europe to food labeling. With regard to the legitimate affixing of certain wording referring to the contents of products. In particular, to the absence of certain ingredients (e.g. without additives, dyes, preservatives, hydrogenated fats, palm oil, ingredients of animal origin).

Claims of the type ‘Free from…’ – in light of applicable EU food legislation – qualify as voluntary label claims. (1) Messages aimed at promoting various products by following market trends, the legitimacy of which is subject to compliance with a number of conditions:

– the information does not qualify as nutritional or health claims (e.g. fat-free, light) and are therefore excluded from the application of Reg. EC 1924/06. (2) Nor are they expressly prohibited (such as the reference to trans-fatty acids and cholesterol),

– the news is true (and demonstrable), where appropriate based on relevant scientific data,

– data are clearly stated without ambiguity. Within the definitions offered by the applicable legislation (which does not, for example, include the concepts of ‘chemical additives‘ or‘vegan flavorings‘),

– product characteristics that are common to all other foods in the same category are not emphasized, (3)

Therefore, it is legitimate to highlight the peculiar characteristics of a food product’s recipe, including the absence of certain ingredients, to distinguish it from others in the same category that may have different characteristics. And enable the average consumer to make informed purchasing choices that are consonant with their expectations. Through clear messages, perhaps even displayed on the label front, without the need to study the meaning of a legal food name or find the Italian version of a complex multi-language ingredient list.

The Ministry of Economic Development-interviewed in this regard by a virtuous Italian industry-confirmed the correctness of the proposed interpretation, in the letter a copy of which is attached. (4) Key word, factual statement. Subject to the conditions mentioned above.

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Reg. EU 1169/2011, Art. 36

(2) Reg. EC 1924/06 as amended, Annex

(3) It should therefore be considered inadmissible, for example, to boast about theabsence of palm in a hamburger. Cf. reg. EU 1169/2011, Art. 7.1.c

(4) SEE ATTACHED. The identity of the recipient of the missive is omitted due to privacy needs of the individual operator