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Ecommerce food, information fugitive

The sale of food ecommerce is subject to consumer information duties which are still largely disregarded. The rules have been in place for over six years, but few abide by them. Why, how is this possible? Brief analysis and comments to follow.

The EU regulation 1169/11, cd Food Information Regulation, requires that all the information required as mandatory on the label (1) is always provided to the consumer. Even in the case of distance selling, such as ecommerce. In these cases, the news must be made available before the fateful 'click' for the purchase order. (2)

Most of the operators in Italy however, he persists in disapplying the above requirements. We signed up to the most well-known websites for the online sale of food products, to check their level of 'compliance'. Following, the ranking of illegality. From outlawed sites to those closest to respecting the rules for food ecommerce.

Ecommerce food, the ranking of illegality

- Amazon. The information module is based on two items, 'Description' and 'Features and details'. The latter sometimes refers to 'Features' and 'Product details'. However, these are rarely (when ever) filled in as required. Therefore, the essential information is missing. (3)

- Auchan - Simply. The site www.auchan.it is nothing more than a flyer in web format. No information beyond the name and price per sales unit, sometimes save the quantity. Spesasimply.it adds 'Complementary Info' and 'Ingredients' (with citation of allergens often lacking and lacking in evidence). Sometimes a nutrition declaration appears, perhaps

- Conad. The site www.conadacasa.it allows the online purchase and delivery, in some limited districts, of the purchased goods. However, information on food products is not available, beyond product name and price, per sales unit and per kg. There is only an image - with a low definition level and therefore useless - of the label front.

The most careful

- Esselunga. The portal www.esselungaacasa.it presents a core product information core. 'Characteristics' (sales name and' money-back 'guarantee),' Ingredients' (with allergens highlighted in bold '),' Recommendations for use '(' storage details'). The precautionary indication on the possible presence of allergenic ingredients however, it is of no use, since it refers indiscriminately to the entire list of substances provided for by reg. EU 1169/11. (4)

- Carrefour. The French group, on https://myshop.carrefour.it, introduces each product with an articulated group of news. 'Ingredients / Allergens', 'Nutritional information', 'Directions for use and warnings', 'Sales name', 'Other information'. The unsatisfactoryinformation on the presence of allergenic ingredients, often referred to with reference to categories not allowed, as 'nuts'.

- Coop Italy. The site https://www.easycoop.com/ offers detailed information on all food products on sale through its website. 'Details', 'Ingredients', 'Allergens', 'Nutritional values', 'Storage', 'More information'. The news on allergens is sometimes inaccurate. (5)

No sanctions for those who ignore consumers

How is it possible that some of the main distribution operators violate the most basic rules? There is no shortage of technical tools. GS1-Italy (Global Standards Italy, once known as Indicod-ECR) has been developing the Immagino system for years, to catalog all foods with legal information. But in Italy, even where there is talk of 'corporate social responsibility', (6) compliance with the laws is neglected until their infringement is punished. And the EU regulation 1169/11 is still free of sanctions.

Consumers are at the expense, as always. Allergy sufferers and celiacs in particular, for whom the food ecommerce service is in fact unavailable due to fugitive or unsuitable information. (7) But their associations do not seem to notice it, and the writer is unfortunately the only one a denounce this very serious breach of the Italian government. Widespread inaction.


(1) Apart from the only information that distinguishes the single sales unit, such as the minimum storage term or expiry date, and the batch code
(2) Pursuant to reg. 1169/11, the information 'is available before the conclusion of the purchase and appears on the support of distance selling or is provided by any other suitable means clearly identified by the food business operator' (article 14)
(3) On the contrary, one feels taken for a ride when reading the inevitable 'Important information - Warnings' which states that' Producers can modify the composition of their products. Therefore, the product packaging may contain different information than what is shown on our site.

Please always read the label, warnings and instructions provided on the product before using or consuming it. ' But which label to read and where?
(4) The Esselunga site reports that 'All gastronomy products may contain, as an ingredient or in traces (as they are processed at the same establishment), the following substances and their derivatives:

cereals containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelled, kamut or their hybridized strains), crustaceans, fish, molluscs, peanuts, soy, lupine, eggs, milk (including lactose), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts common, cashew nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, Queensland nuts), celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide and sulphites in concentrations above 10 mg / kg (expressed in SO2) '. And self-control where is it?
(5) A couple of examples from the Coop Italia website. 'Bibanesi spelled and quinoa', allergens 'cereals' (?), 'Crackers Coop with extra virgin olive oil and rosemary', allergens 'cereals containing gluten'
(6) CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility
(7) Paradoxically in Italy the discrimination of all forms of disability is amplified rather than reduced by the web. Trenitalia is exemplary in this sense, which does not allow disabled people to buy tickets online (and thus to access offers)

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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