Laws & Labels

Fines for fake labels are triggered in Italy

A new decree provides for fines from 500 to 40,000 euro for those who lie on characteristics and ingredients

Fines for lies on food labels are triggered in Italy. This is what Coldiretti announces in relation to the recent sanctions, from 500 to 40,000 euros, for those who do not respect transparency and correct information to consumers about what is offered on the shelves. The news comes from a legislative decree that implements the European Union’s regulations on consumers’ protection and it concerns both the indication of origin of the main ingredients and the expiry date, the presence of allergens, the nutritional declaration or the characteristics of the product – i. e. defining it organic or vegan when it is not.

A long-awaited measure

This is a long-awaited response from over two out of three Italians (68%) who are concerned about the impact of what they eat on their health, according to a Coldiretti/Ixè analysis. The decree is in fact an instrument to guarantee consumers on food information against fake news, so as to allow correct choices and to prevent any practice that could mislead consumers. The kind of information which must appear on the labels of food products has therefore been defined by the EU. Starting with the fact that it is compulsory to indicate the substances which may cause allergies or intolerances and the rules on the labelling requirements for these substances; also defining a product as vegan or vegetarian when it is not is a violation of fair information practices. Sanctions are imposed by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. There are, however, a safeguard clause and some mitigating regulations. If the product has been produced before 9 May – when the decree came into force – and labeled or placed on the market it may be sold until exhaustion of stock, even if it is not in conformity with the new law.