HomelabelsInsects, the outlawed decrees of the Italian government

Insects, the outlawed decrees of the Italian government

The Italian government under the bridle of Coldiretti disperses public resources in four decrees on the labeling of insects which are outlawed, due to their unconstitutionality and contrast with European law, as well as useless.

1) Italy, insect decrees, 23 March 2023

Four decrees signed by the ministers of agriculture, sovereignty and the Hon. Francesco Lollobrigida, of businesses and the Made in Italy: food Adolfo Urso and health Prof. Orazio Schillaci. The photocopied decrees, dated 23 March 2023, are distinguished only by the variant of the edible insects in each of them considered (cricket, migratory locust, mealworm and gilla larva).

1.1) Premises

The premises of the four decrees refer to different regulatory sources:

  • the EU regulations that authorize the placing on the market of the various insects mentioned above in different forms, conditions and quantities of use as ingredients of some categories of foods (identified through a specific EFSA database). According to novel food Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283 and reform of its implementing regulation (reg. EU 2017/2470. See notes 1,2,3),
  • the law of 24 December 2012 n. 234, article 36, which attributes to the 'competent ministers' (so it is hoped) the implementation by decree of the 'not autonomously applicable implementing acts, adopted (…) by the European Commission in execution of European Union acts already transposed or already effective in national law'. (4)

1.2) Shelf labeling and placement requirements

The label of food products that contain the various insects contained in the four decrees must report:

  • their respective legal designations, as set out in the licensing regulations such as novel foods, and
  • possible allergic reactions (in the case of crickets, due to possible sensitivity on the part of allergic subjects to crustaceans, molluscs and dust mites). Nothing new with respect to European regulations,
  • 'in the main visual field, printed in such a way as to be easily visible and clearly legible, the following indications must be given: "The food product contains...".
  • the products in question 'must be offered for sale in separate compartments, indicated by means of appropriate signs'. As is already the case, in practice, for some categories of innovative foods (e.g. products with protein formulas).

1.3) Mandatory origin

'In order to ensure correct and complete information to consumers, strengthen the prevention and repression of food fraud and unfair competition, it is mandatory to include the indication of the place of origin on the label of the products in question.

2) novel food, the EU rules. The case of crickets

EU regulations 2022/188 and 2023/5 authorize placing on the market, such as novel foods, from:

  • acheta domesticus (domestic cricket) frozen, dried and powdered (ground), such as snack and food ingredient in a number of food products,
  • degreased cricket powder (acheta domesticus), with five-year exclusives
  • in favour, respectively, of the companies Fair Insects BV (NL) and Cricket One Ltd. (Vietnam. See notes 5,6 and XNUMX).

2.1) EU labeling requirements

The labels of foods that contain the aforementioned novel foods – based on the aforementioned EU regulations, directly applicable in the 27 Member States – must always include:

  • the denominations'acheta domesticus (house cricket) frozen 'o'acheta domesticus (domestic cricket) dried/powdered', depending on the form used. That is to say 'partially defatted powder of Acheta domesticus (house cricket)',
  • the indication, 'next to the ingredient list', that 'this ingredient may cause allergic reactions in consumers with known allergies to shellfish and shellfish products, shellfish and shellfish products and dust mites' (5,6)

3) Constitutional defect

Law 234/12 delegates the competent ministers - subject to agreement with the State-Regions Conference, which was reached on the decrees in question in the session of 22 March 2023 - only to 'technical adaptations and implementing acts of the European Union' relating to measures 'not automatically applicable' (article 36. See supra, by. 1.1).

All regulations European Authorization of novel foods, however, specify both the 'conditions under which the novel food may be used', both i 'additional specific labeling requirements' and any 'other requirements'. (3) Therefore, the conditions for exercising the ministerial delegation do not exist.

4) Violations of European law

The excess of delegation absorbs any further reason for the illegitimacy of the ministerial decrees in question, due to conflict with the Constitution of the Italian Republic. Added to this are the violations of European law, as expressed below:

  • reg. EU 1169/11, article 38.1 (National provisions). 'As regards matters expressly harmonized by this regulation, the Member States may not adopt or maintain national provisions unless authorized by Union law'. In the present case, the Italian decrees intervene on matters subject to specific discipline through specific European regulations. (7)

4.1) Origin and provenance, burden of proof

'Member States may introduce provisions concerning the mandatory indication of the country of origin or place of provenance of foods only where there is a proven link between certain qualities of the food and its origin or provenance.

When notifying these provisions to the Commission, Member States shall provide evidence that the majority of consumers attach significant value to the provision of this information' (EU reg. 1169/11, article 39.2).

4.2) Italy and France compared

Italian ministers – in defiance of the aforementioned EU rules – they tried to justify their fantasies about the origin of the insects by alleging 'higher requirements for more complete consumer information and prevention of fraud and unfair competition, to further specify'.

The French government instead it has already passed the examination of the Court of Justice, in demonstrating what is necessary to prescribe the labeling of the origin of the milk. (8) And he focused on real priorities, without shackles. Having prescribed the indication of the origin of the meat – beef, pork, sheep and poultry – at the restaurant. (9)

5) Coldiretti orders

The Four Decrees miserably express, once again, the orders of Coldiretti. From which in fact came the following proclamations:

  • 'most of the new products come from non-EU countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand or China (…) and it is therefore important that the origin is always indicated on the label',
  • 'Italians, for the vast majority, would never bring insects to the table, considered extraneous to the national food culture:
  • 54% are in fact really against insects at the table, while 24% are indifferent, only 16% are in favor and 6% do not answer, according to the Coldiretti/Ixe' survey. (10) Which investigation, on which sample? The same numbers were deducted 6 years earlier, in 2017. (11)

6) Provisional conclusions

Brothers of Italy unfortunately he falls into the error of following the orders of an agricultural confederation which in recent decades has had its tutelary deities in Matteo Renzi in Italy and Paolo De Castro in Strasbourg. And in commanding agri-food policies in Italy 'blind', he has achieved the following results in recent years:

  • around 400 farms extinct between 2010 and 2020 (-30%) while the surface area decreased by 2,5% (source: Istat),
  • negative trade balance (29,8 billion euro v. 29,4 as at 30.6.22, source Ismea),
  • more than 10% of the soils are 'very vulnerable' to degradation (source Ispra). (12)


Dario Dongo


(1) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Insects like novel foods, state of the art in the European Union and the UK. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 18.8.22

(2) Dario Dongo. Domestic crickets and novel foods, some clarity. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.1.23

(3) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2470 establishing the Union list of novel foods pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 of the European Parliament and of the Council on novel foods. Text updated on 6.2.23 on Eur-Lex https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?qid=1679934508136&uri=CELEX%3A32017R2470#d1e110-72-1

(4) Law 24 December 2012, n. 234.

General rules on Italy's participation in the formation and implementation of European Union legislation and policies https://www.normattiva.it/uri-res/N2Ls?urn:nir:stato:legge:2012;234~art43

See Chapter VII (Fulfillment of the obligations deriving from Italy's membership of the European Union), article 36

(5) EU Reg. 2022/188, which authorizes the placing on the market of acheta domesticus frozen, dried and powdered as a novel food https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32022R0188&qid=1679936635921

(6) EU Reg. 2023/5, which authorizes the placing on the market of the partially defatted powder of acheta domesticus (domestic cricket) as a novel food https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/IT/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32023R0005&qid=1679935610617

(7) EU Reg. 1169/11, articles 9 and 10. EU Reg. 2015/2283 and subsequent implementing regulations

(8) Dario Dongo. National rules on origin labeling, green light from the EU Court of Justice. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 4.10.20

(9) Dario Dongo. Origin of all meats at the restaurant, the French lesson. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 25.11.19

(10) Prandini: "From worms to wine, enough of this Europe hostage to multinationals". https://www.ilpuntocoldiretti.it/attualita/economia/prandini-dai-vermi-al-vino-basta-con-questa-europa-ostaggio-delle-multinazionali/ The Coldiretti Point. 24.1.23

(11) New EU regulation. From January 1st ok to insects at the table. But 54% of Italians are against it. https://www.quotidianosanita.it/m/scienza-e-farmaci/articolo.php?articolo_id=55028 Health newspaper. 22.10.17

(12) Duccio Facchini. Investigation into BF, the true "king" of Italian industrial agriculture. https://altreconomia.it/inchiesta-su-bf-il-vero-sovrano-dellagricoltura-industriale-italiana/ Other Economy. 1.1.22

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

Related Articles

Latest Articles

Recent Commenti