Food labeling has been attributed to increasing the sales of certain foods; seeing a familiar country or associating good quality with a region can be the push that buyers need to purchase. Labels like “Made in Italy” or “Made in Belgium” have become common in grocery stores across Europe. 2003 opened with a series of unprecedented initiatives to defend the “Made in Italy” at European tables. From the reform of EU legislation on renowned brands (the “designations of origin”) to the negotiating battlefield to strengthen its protection within the World Trade Organization (OMC). From the demand for stricter labels and fines controls to the states that are not vigilant at the introduction of heavy sanctions for counterfeit companies.
Food piracy continues to hit the tricolor delights, damaging the industry for hundreds of millions of euros each year.
Even in Brussels, the scrupulous Euro-Commissioners for Agriculture, Franz Fischler and consumer protection, David Byrne, are able to pinpoint the phenomenon to labeling, presentation and advertising of products. This Directive adopted in March 2000 frustrates Belgian producers and distributors by interpreting the rules by the letter to sell products.
The European Member of Forza Italia, Enrico Ferri, Member of the Legal Affairs and the Internal Market of the European Parliament. A strenuous defender of the local specialties, together with Coldiretti and the Minister of Agriculture, Gianni Alemanno, are struggling to win the Italian quality at the European and international negotiating tables.
EU labels imitating …
Excepts from some cases of counterfeit trademark registration of exclusive European registered trademarks such as a “Fontina d’Aosta” slice Denomination of Protected Origin cheese (Dop) which we have seen in the dairy department are among the products not registered and the most affected by piracy. Products with names of Italian origin (such as salami, mortadella, spaghetti, macaroni, coffee…) now “vulgarized” and therefore also usable for foreign products (so-called “generic denominations”).
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happens in reality; the Italian tricolor follows us everywhere, from pasta to pasta jars, from oil bottles to mozzarella packs. Checking labels in any grocery store you can read “Made in Belgium”, “Made in Greece” or worse, no indication of origin. All readily recognizable “parasitic” attempts, as they flagrantly violate the European labeling directive. This is forbidden, on the packaging, of distinctive signs likely to deceive the consumer on the actual origin of the product and oblige to indicate the place of production in cases where the risk of confusion is higher.
…But often you can’t see the deceipt
The trap is however lurking at every supermarket corner. There are many under the impression that believe products sold with the Italian insignia the “Salame Milano” and “Spianata Romana” simply by writing on the packaging: “selected in the region of origin”.
The euro-deputy commented “By reading such a label one might think that the product is traditionally worked, respectively, Milan and Rome respectively. But who can really say it? The label should clearly indicate the place of origin to show that it is an Italian product, instead it uses a vague phrase that can mislead “.
The question is also addressed by Federico Rossetto, of the Coldiretti Representative in Brussels who states that “in order for a label to be truly respectful of the consumer, the Commission should also make the indication of the origin of raw materials compulsory under the” Traceability “of food from crops to the table, in force in 2005“. For example, who tells us that “Pizza margherita” with written “selected in Naples” that we pull out of the frozen department, was really prepared with Italian semolina instead of with hard wheat Canadian, abundantly imported into the EU?
Still insufficient controls…
“To ensure that the European rules on labeling are strictly respected in practice, we should introduce a uniform control system supervised by the European Commission, as I proposed in my amendments to the European Parliament” says Mr Ferri. But in most European countries the idea seems to be unpleasant. “The problem is that the governments themselves are responsible for the organization of inspections, and they often and willingly close an eye to defend their industry” Rossetto explains. Therefore, a common system of controls at European level is not suitable for producer countries of imitations.
That being the case, if Italy wanted to defend the “Made in Italy” against all the many cases of trade alteration in the EU, it should file hundreds of complaints and support huge legal fees. This is why justice is used only for the most lucid counterfeits, such as the recent case of Parmigiano Reggiano.
But the fantasy of food falsers has no limits: so instead of the “Parmesan”, the grated cheese that was banned from the EU Court a year ago because it was judged confusing with our Parmigiano Reggiano Dop, we find the “Italian Pamesello” in The same identical packaging as the previous designation. A little further there is the “Cambozola”, an imitation of our Gorgonzola Dop, which is banned in Italy but not in countries like Belgium, since the European ruling of March ’99 leaves each country free to authorize or not to sell.
…Appeals and salty penis are coming for forgers
Situations that may not be repeated in the future. The European Commission, in fact, has finally decided to support the long-awaited line by Coldiretti, presenting in January a new proposal for a directive on “falsifying”. Those who continue to oppose trademarks in the EU, including Dop Food Specialties, will be punished with criminal penalties until detained. However, the Italian government intends to keep clean not only of imitations of renowned
However, the Italian government intends to keep clean not only of imitations of renowned brands, but of all the colorful casinos of “italianized” products. That is why, in February last year, the Province of Rome appealed to the EU Court of Justice to oblige the Commission to step up fines against those countries that fail to comply with the rules on labeling.
Moreover, to confirm the lack of seriousness of the controls is what is said by the Director General of the Inspection Service of the Belgian Ministry of the Economy, Mark Van Hende. “We conduct about 1000 inspections per year in the food industry, but for pasta, for example, no controls are provided. As far as oil is concerned, in 2002 we conducted a large inquiry with over 400 inspections and we did not find any infringement. What do you say? If you believe, you report to our offices the falsities you found. ”
Greater protection for renowned brands in the EU …
The most important victory recently gained from Italy is the enhanced protection of renowned brands. At present, our country boasts 123 Dop and Igp products (Protected Designation of Origin) on a European total of 610 (20%), to which will be added a further 37 in the process of registration, allowing us to tear up the European primacy so far Detained by France.
Just last week, the 15 European agriculture ministers also approved two important amendments voted by the European Parliament on Mr Ferri’s initiative and backed by Coldiretti to revise the 1992 Regulation on origin-denominations more favorably to quality Italian.
“The main novelty,” Ferri explains, “is that, from now on, producer consortia will be able to require that subsequent processing of the finished product (i.e. air conditioning operations) is mandatory in the delimited area of Dop or Igp.” A regulatory innovation that would prevent the repetition of “food scams” such as Grana Padano grated and sold in France and Parma ham sliced and sold in England, for which Italy has appealed (the so-called “war of the fried “) and has been awaiting a sentence of condemnation from the EU Court for almost three years, which should probably arrive by summer.
The other important result is the Commission’s commitment to addressing the problem of plant varieties recorded an imaginary geographic name, that is, nothing has to do with the product. ” In this regard, the story of the “Genoese Basil” has raised a lot of clamor over recent months. Vegetable variety that has risked denying the registration as IGP because of the entry already made by a foreign company, under the name “Genoa”, for a product that has no link with the locus called and which, fortunately , was eventually withdrawn.
But also at the international level
The battle for the defense of renowned brands now moves from Brussels to Geneva, where agricultural negotiations are underway in the OMC. Coldiretti, supported by Minister Alemanno, proposes to extend the EU system of designations of origin at a multilateral level through the creation of an international register of agri-food products in which each country can register its protected trademarks with the right to use them in exclusive and adequate protection in all member states of the OMC.
“This is a necessary measure since the vast majority of fraud is carried out in non-EU countries, where typical products can not enjoy the protection of Dop and Igp,” Rossetto explains, “Our position has been subscribed to the agricultural associations of others Member States and welcomed by Commissioner Fischler who, last February, formally pledged to defend it at the next round of negotiations in Cancun in September this year. ” In any case, as early as January last year, the Commission has decided to extend EU customs controls to non-EU counterfeiting of well-known brands.