ORIGIN OF WHEAT ON THE LABEL: HEATED DEBATED ON THE DECREES SIGNED BY MARTINA AND CALENDA
On 20 July 2017, Ministers Maurizio Martina and Carlo Calenda signed two interministerial decrees to introduce the obligation to indicate the origin of rice and wheat for pasta on the label, which is due to enter into force in February 2018.
The measures in question (i. e. the “wheat/pasta” decree and the rice decree) provide for the obligation to state the origin of wheat, rice and pasta on the label for a two-year period of experimentation.
The packs of dry pasta produced in Italy must therefore indicate on the label both the country where the wheat is grown and the country of milling. If these phases take place in the territory of more than one country, the following indications may be used, depending on their origin: EU countries, NON-EU countries, EU countries and non-EU countries. If durum wheat is grown at least 50% in one country, such as Italy, the words “Italy and other EU and/or non-EU countries” may be used.
With regards to the decree concerning rice, the measure provides that the country in which the rice is grown, the country of processing and the country of packaging must be indicated on the label. Even for rice, if these phases take place in the territory of more than one country, the following indications may be used, depending on their origin: EU countries, non-EU countries, EU and non-EU countries.
However, the decrees exclude from the obligation to indicate origin durum wheat pasta PGI (such as Gragnano), fresh and gluten-free pasta (rice, maize, soya, rye, etc.), organic pasta, spelt and kamut and so on. This exclusion has been criticised since the above decrees have been issued as measures aimed at implementing Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011. The primary objective of the regulation is making the principle of informed choice effective and, therefore, does not contain any exceptions similar to those provided for by the decree on pasta wheat.
Other criticisms of the decrees were expressed by some groups of farmers and pasta producers. In particular, Coldiretti argued that Italian pasta producers would be enormously damaged if they were obliged to make it clear that the wheat used does not come entirely from Italy.