Someone declares that milk comes from a theoretical ‘Alpine space’ which includes plains, seashores and city jungles, and someone says not. The Italian Ministry of Economic Development is adamant, the Anti-Fraud Inspectorate must intervene.
Fake Alpine milk
A large industrial group – Inalpi Spa, with its headquarters in Moretta (Cuneo province, Piedmont region) and already known to the media for fraud against the State and the European Union – founds its marketing campaign on the value of local raw materials. Only ‘Alpine milk’, ‘Piedmont Alpine milk’ are indeed the most common claims on Inalpi-branded dairy products.
Communication is effective, successful. But the sharp eyes of the Department of Central Inspectorate for quality safeguarding and anti-fraud of foodstuff and agricultural products (ICQRF) have intercepted an anomaly.
Inalpi’s labelling and advertising, while bragging on the origin of its milk from the Alps, draw indeed to an EC decision having very little to do with the mountains. It’s the decision 2014/3898/EC on the ‘European Alpine Space’, a framework program for public financing of international development projects.
The ‘European Alpine Space’ is indeed a wide area which comprehends those regions bordering the Alps. It includes the plains and large river basins as the Po and the Adige, Danube, Rhone and Rhine ones. But also some areas of the Tirrenian and Adriatic coasts. As well as the big cities recalling a European vocation and dimension, such as Milan, Geneva, Vienna and others.
Alpine milk, consumer information
The questions arises quite naturally, milk from the French or the Italian marine areas can be considered as ‘alpine milk’? Or even from the Schwarzwald (Black Forest), given that the Côte d’Azur, the Ligurian Riviera dei Fiori and the Baden-Wurttemberg all fall within the European Alpine Space?
‘Food information must not mislead, in particular: as to the characteristics of a foodstuff and, especially the nature, identity, properties, composition, quantity, shelf-life, country of origin or place of provenance, method of manufacture or production’ (Reg. EU No. 1169/2011, Article 7, Fair Information Practices, Art. 1 letter a)
It’s as if the destinations of a vacation package in the Alps turn out to be Monferrato, Nice, Alessandria, Pavia, Milan, Lignano Sabbiadoro. Quite a big tease. Just like in this case, where the authority for Fraud Repression has promptly detected.
Fake Alpine milk, the opinion of the Italian Ministry of Economic Development
The Ministry of Economic Development, (formerly known as MoI), in its letter to the Anti-Fraud Office, has clarified that ‘when one wants to lay out the alpine origin of a product or ingredient’ one must refer exclusively to the mountainous territory set out in the Alpine Convention. (3)
The wording ‘mountain product’ can be used in compliance with the conditions from the Ministerial Decree dated 7.26.17. (4) Where the ‘mountain areas’ are to be understood as those areas located in municipalities that are – indeed- mountainous, and it is specified that the processing of raw materials must be conducted in adjacent areas.
It is therefore time for the ICQRF to disrupt the fraudulent practice in question. While doing this, the public officials should also take a look at the cheese scam case, regarding the unlawful quotation of characterizing ingredients on melted cheese. (5) To top it off, the ICQRF ought to investigate on the name and ingredients list of the s.c. ‘Milk Slices’ (‘Fettine di Latte’).
(1) See Reg. UE No. 1169/2011, Articles 7 and 36
(2) Letter from the Ministry of Economic Development 1.17
(3) The Alpine Convention, signed in Salzburg the 11.7.91, interests only the mountain areas on a surface that is less than half the one considered – for the sole purpose of public financing and economic cooperation – in the European Alpine Space
(5) Food fraud that concerns the Galbani-Lactalisand Mondelez groups