Italian regulations ordering the compulsory country of origin labelling of poultry meat and poultry products imported into the country have been ruled illegal, breaching EU rules aimed at facilitating free internal market trading.
The European Commission has sent a Reasoned Opinion to Italy over its legislation setting out a specific compulsory labelling system for poultry meat and poultry meat products.
Under an Order adopted in August 2005, Italian producers and the first recipients of poultry meat are obliged to indicate the Member State of origin of the meat, as well as the date of import for poultry meat and products coming from other Member States and third countries. According to the commission, however, this measure contravenes EU rules on food labelling and the marketing of poultry, and could cause market discrimination and hamper the Internal Market and other trade.
Italian authorities have claimed that the labelling measures were taken so that, in the event of an avian flu outbreak, poultry meat could be rapidly traced and withdrawn from the market.
The Commission responded by saying that such measures have “no justification.”
“Strict EU veterinary legislation ensures that any poultry meat placed on the EU market is safe,” a statement from the Commission outlined.
Rome now has two months to respond to the warning. If the issue remains unsolved, the Commission could take Italy to the European Court of Justice – the EU’s highest court.