April 1, 2015 the EU Regulation 1337/2013 shall become applicable, the first of thirty-enforcement provided by CD ‘Food Information Regulation’. Starting today most of the meats must be labeled with their origin. Let’s see what this is.
To which meats does the new label apply
For swine, sheep, goat and poultry meat the origin is mandatory. Leaving out, perhaps for an oversight of the European legislator, horse meat, rabbit and hare. Beef has been as well subject to the mandatory information of origin – with specifications of the country of birth, rearing and slaughter – already since way back to 2000, in the aftermath of the European Bovine spongiform encephalopathy scandal (BSE, known as ‘mad cow disease’. Reg. 1760, 1825/2000).
The meats subject to the new requirement are only those sold as such – whether fresh, chilled or frozen – even if cut or ground. The preparations of meat are though excluded, which can in turn contain fresh meat but with the addition of other ingredients (e.g. seasoning, breadcrumbs, cheese or salami). Processed meats are also excluded, i.e. bresaola, prociutto and salamis, cotechini (gelatinous pork sausage in a natural casing) and zamponi (stuffed pig’s foot), etc.
From “Reared in …’ to ‘Origin Italy’
The label must contain the two statements ‘Reared in … (name of Member State or third country)’ and ‘Slaughtered in … (name of Member State or third country)’. As a substitute, one can enter the term ‘Origin … (Member State or third country)’ in the only case in which the animal was born, raised and slaughtered in a single country. In practice, only when we read the label ‘Origin Italy’ we can be certain that the related animals are Italian, raised and slaughtered in our country.
‘Reared in …’, how and when? On the countries of birth and slaughter there is no doubt, these remain as they are. As for the breeding phase instead, the legislature has defined the following ‘attribution of nationality’ criteria:
– For pigs i.e. reared in a particular country granted they have spent the last four months of their life in that country (if slaughtered when over six months of age), or if they have reached a certain weight (from 30 kg and rising for animals killed before six months with a higher weight than 80kg), or even the entire herd (for pigs slaughtered within six months of life and 80kg weight),
– Sheep and goats i.e. reared in a particular country when there have spent the last six months of their life in that country (or their whole life, if taken to slaughter before six months of age),
– Poultry i.e. reared in the country where the animals have spent the last month of their lives (if reared for over a month of age), or at least where they were put to fatten (if slaughtered before one month of age).
A clarification is missing
However, what remains unclear is a critical step, namely the application of the new rules also to meats sold loose and pre packaged. Regulation EC 1760/2000, in introducing the mandatory origin on beef, had made clear that the information should be provided also in the points of sale for meats sold loose, i.e. on the label, on pre packaged meat for the purpose of direct sale. But the EU Regulation 1337/2013 is not as clear. Therefore, a clarification by the relevant Ministries
(Economic Development, Agriculture, Health) would be useful, for the best protection of the Italian consumer. The latter, however, we would like to point out, is still waiting for the crucial ‘sanction decree’.