Commission Midday Express, 19 July 2007
The European Commission has decided to send 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. 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. The Italian authorities claim that these labelling measures were taken so that, in the event of an avian flu outbreak, poultry meat could be rapidly traced and withdrawn from the market. However, the Commission finds no justification for the Italian rules. Strict EU veterinary legislation ensures that any poultry meat placed on the EU market is safe, while there are also harmonised rules on food labelling which ensure that consumers are properly informed and not misled. Under Regulation 1906/90 on the marketing of poultry products, Member States can only require the labelling of origin when the absence of such information could mislead or confuse the consumer – which is not the case at issue. The Italian authorities have 2 months to reply to the Reasoned Opinion. If they fail to take the appropriate measures to rectify the situation, the Commission will refer this matter to the Court of Justice.