Commission Midday Express, 26 June 2008
The European Commission referred Italy to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) yesterday for failure to comply with EU legislation on the labelling of foodstuffs and on marketing standards for poultry meat.
The Court referral follows the letter of formal notice sent in October 2006 and a reasoned opinion sent in July 2007. The referral to the ECJ is the next step in the infringement procedure.
Under an Order adopted in August 2005, last amended in December 2007, Italian producers and the first recipients of poultry meat are obliged to indicate the Member State of origin of the meat for poultry meat coming from other Member States and third countries. This measure contravenes EU rules on food labelling and the marketing of poultry. It could cause market discrimination and hamper the Internal Market and trade.
The Italian authorities claimed that these labelling measures were taken to prevent consumers from being misled on the origin of the poultry meat and that they aimed to increase the traceability of poultry products so that, in the event of an avian flu outbreak, poultry meat could be rapidly traced and withdrawn from the market. However, the Commission finds no justification for the Italian rules. There are harmonised rules on food labelling ensuring that consumers are properly informed and not misled while strict EU veterinary legislation ensures that any poultry meat placed on the EU market is safe. According to the Regulation on the marketing of poultry meat, Member States can only require the labelling of origin in the case of poultry meat imported from third countries.