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Official food controls in Italy, 2016 data

Official controls in Italy on food and beverages, 2016 data

The Ministry of Health - Directorate-General for Hygiene and Food Safety and Nutrition - sent Parliament, on 15 December 2017, the report on official public controls conducted in 2016 on the food supply chain.

Supervisory and analytical activities conducted by the numerous competent authorities are in fact https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/controlli-il-ruolo-dellamministrazione-sanitaria/ lwhich, among other things, provides for the annual report on the controls performed. And the three-year planning of those that will have to follow, based on the identified risks.

Official public controls, the competent authorities

Who does what? To better understand the scenario of official controls in Italy and the data presented in the 2016 report, it is useful to recall the roles of the competent authorities. In relation to both foodstuffs arriving from all over the world (with national and foreign destinations), and those made in Italy.

 - Ministry of Health. Regular checks on all operators, based on the risks identified in relation to the categories of food, raw materials and ingredients, to the positions in the supply chain, to the processing methods. More generally, in the light of any news or well-founded fear of potential critical issues for food safety,

Anti-Sophistication Unit (NAS). Inspection, investigation and sampling activities, in support of the Health Administration,

ASL. Controls on primary agricultural production, processing and packaging, wholesale and retail distribution, transport and logistics, catering (public, collective and welfare), direct sales,

Maritime, Air and Border Health Offices (USMAF). Controls on the import of food of non-animal origin,

Border inspection posts (PIF). Controls on the import of food of animal origin,

Veterinary Offices for Community Compliance (UVAC). Controls on intra-EU trade in products of animal origin,

Central Inspectorate for the protection of quality and fraud prevention of agri-food products (ICQRF), at the Mi.PAAF Official controls on quality productions (eg PDO, PGI), actions to protect the Made in Italy agri-food in the world and on the web,

Finance Guard (GdF). Activities of judicial police and economic-financial investigations, with particular attention to agri-food fraud,

Agenzia delle dogane and de monopoli. Targeted controls on imports.

The geography of controls in Italy it is complex, also taking into account the territorial levels - central, regional, local - on which they are built.

Controls on imports in Italy, 2016 data

Products of non-animal origin. Controls on consignments of non-animal origin carried out by USMAF conducted 7.085 inspections, with 4.855 sampling for analytical purposes (out of 148.050 lots).

Non-conformities (0,20%) mainly concerned the presence of aflatoxins, pesticides, pesticides and salmonella.

Products of animal origin.Among the consignments of animal origin passed through the PIF (about 40.000), the samplings performed (1.774, 4,4% of the total) exceeded the programmed levels (3%).

The sampling mainly involved (82%) fishery and aquaculture products, molluscs and crustaceans.

Intra-EU trade in animals, products and animal by-products. 2016 data

Intra-Community trade showed a flow of animals and foodstuffs 46 times higher than that of imports from third countries. To the UVAC 2.085.814 consignments were reported, of which 1.927.866 relate to products of animal origin intended for human consumption.

The consignments subject to control, documentary and physical, are only 7.796 (0,40%). Laboratory analysis on 3.617 samples, 77 rejected lots. Rejections mainly concerned fish products and pork.

Controls on the national territory, 2016 data

The controls of ASL produced the following data:

- 275.382 units subject to the control of the ASL,

- 54.141 infringements detected during inspections (19,1% of cases),

- 56,3% of the irregularities come from the catering sector,

- 20,8% from distribution, wholesale and retail.

Infringements concern mainly general hygiene (44,1%) and the irregularity of the HACCP system (27,5%).


NAS reports confirm the problems encountered in catering https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/cucine-da-incubo-il-bistrot-cannavacciuolo:

- 56.400 checks carried out,

- 11.144 non-conformities found (33%),

- 41% of irregularities come from catering,

- 37% from the bread and pasta sectors.

The crime disputes they increased from 2.900 in 2015 to 3.300 in 2016. The most widespread case (28%), possession and administration of food in a poor state of conservation.

The kidnappings they reached record levels, over 65 million liters of beverages and kg of food and about 27 head of cattle.

Administrative sanctions on the other hand, they decreased significantly, also due to the serious delay of the Italian government in adopting a sanctioning framework for violations of EU regulation 1169/11. (1) Labeling irregularities thus represent 10% of offenses, dominated instead by structural hygiene deficiencies (69%).

Official analyzes, 2016 data

The activity of the reference laboratories for official analyzes, in the last 4 years, it has drastically dropped. Two thirds, from about 124.000 samples in 2012 to 40.000 in 2016 (sic!). An average of 2,47 analytical determinations were carried out on each sample, for a total of 98.995 analyzes. 

Comfort the news that the analytical non-conformities were found to be only 931, 0.94%. Mostly, on foods of animal origin.

Made in Italy, controls 2016

The ICQRF intervened on platforms of ecommerce in 971 cases, to counter illicit evocations, name usurpations and counterfeits of Italian PDOs. The Parmesan Cheese, followed by prosecco, are the most widely counterfeited typical products.

In 2016 the ICQRF it performed 21.365 checks - finding 17,3% of irregular products - and 4.329 analyzes, with unfavorable results in 7,4% of cases.

Controls in Italy on PDO, PGI and TSG products showed not very encouraging data:

- 20,5% irregularity on olive oils,

- 15,7% in the dairy sector,

- 29,6% on meat and meat products.

As for the wines, 21,2% of the products were found to be irregular with respect to the parameters defined in the respective production regulations, or in terms of qualitative-quantitative composition and compliance with the provisions of the law.


The scenario outlined in the report of the Ministry of Health shows the effectiveness and pervasiveness of official public controls in Italy. Which stand out favorably from the European average. 

If the data - in this sense - appear comforting, the need for a systematic reorganization of food law in Italy is evident. In line with the common provisions, without losing sight of the need for legal certainty and at the same time the effectiveness and deterrence of the related sanctioning regimes.

To the government that will come, whatever his side, it is therefore worth repeating the instances at the time proposed to the outgoing executive. (3)

Tommaso Di Paolo and Dario Dongo


(1) The legislative decree containing sanctions for violations of the reg. EU 1169/11, the so-called Food Information Regulation, was indeed approved with a 6-year delay. His analysis in a trilogy, on 


https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/etichette/sanzioni-reg-ue-1169-11-autorità-competenti-e-procedure e 


(2) It is worth recalling, in this regard, the failure of the European Commission to develop a adequate program to combat food fraud.

For further information, please refer to our ebook 'Food safety, mandatory rules and voluntary standards', on https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/libri/sicurezza-alimentare-regole-cogenti-e-norme-volontarie-il-nuovo-libro-di-dario-dongo

(3) With particular regard to the need to implement an Italian food code, referred to in point 4 of the article

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