‘Black Label’ Putting at Risk Italian Food Products

The Codex Alimentarius Food Labelling Committee (FAO body) kicks off in Canada. Coldiretti's alarm on the risks for typical Made in Italy products

Alarmist black label on extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano or Prosciutto di Parma is putting at risk the quality production system of Italian typical food products. This is what Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti says about the start of the ‘food labelling’ committee of the Codex Alimentarius (FAO body) meeting in Ottawa. The meeting will be dedicated to the discussion and possible adoption of guidelines on the Front of Pack Nutritional Labelling (FOP).

The risk is a worldwide adoption of a black label label system, already adopted in Chile, that is effectively advising against the purchase of products such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Gorgonzola, Prosciutto and even gnocchi (dumplings). A similar hypothesis, and in some ways worse, than the traffic light label already adopted in the UK. In fact, it excludes from the diet “healthy and natural foods that have been on the table for centuries just to promote artificial food products whose recipe in some cases is not even known” – says Coldiretti.

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Black label on Gorgonzola


According to Coldiretti the debate is influenced by a draft prepared for publication by the World Health organization (WHO) Department of Nutrition for Health and Development. This states that “nutrient profiling is the science that classifies foods according to their nutritional composition.” A definition which is contested by the Permanent Representation of Italy to International Organizations in Geneva. A letter addressed to the Director General of the WHO, signed by Ambassador Gian Lorenzo Cornado, formally requested the removal of this reference as “it is absolutely unfounded to define nutrient profiling as a ‘science’.” In fact there is an “inherent difficulty in trying to apply to single food products the recommendations on total nutrient intakes, as they are instead designed to be applied to the diet as a whole” as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also argues.

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Black label on Grana Padano

In other words, “a proper diet is based on a nutritional balance between different foods and it should not be based on a specific, single product. There are no healthy or unhealthy foods, just more or less healthy diets,” says Coldiretti President Ettore Prandini.

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