Among the 27 EU member states, Italy is the top-investing nation when it comes to food safety. The food&beverage industries apply very high standards in this regard, dedicating specific spending chapters to ensure products’ safety.
Economic resources and know-how, but also research and innovation, controls, traceability of food and its ingredients and contact materials, consumer information, and communication are the drivers to promote and ensure food safety in response to consumers’ needs.
According to the most recent data, more than three billion euros (more than 2 percent of the total turnover of the Italian food industry) was dedicated to product safety in 2021, while investments in research and development amounted to 10 billion euros (8 percent of turnover). A large part of it is devoted to safety, quality, and continuous improvement of the nutritional characteristics of products.
In addition to the financial aspect, there is human capital. Every day, the Italian food industry engages more than 85,000 people in safety and quality analysis and control. Estimates of business data from Federalimentare (the association of Italian food industries) quantify the analyses carried out in self-control at about 2.8 million per day, amounting to one billion per year. Added to this are 700,000 official inspections by competent authorities.
In terms of public controls aimed at ensuring food safety, then, Italy can count on a state-of-the-art and structured system. The Ministry of Health works in synergy with other relevant central and local administrations. From the system of Regions and health authorities located throughout the territory to food operators. All this ensures a safe production chain that complies with the strict framework of EU and national standards.
Consumers become an integral part of the supply chain, with a central role in the effective functioning of the food safety system. This function takes place in the purchasing, storage, handling, preparation, and consumption of a food product. Indeed, it is the individual consumer’s responsibility to verify label information, such as the expiration date and the presence of allergens, to store food properly, as well as to report any anomalies to the producing companies and/or to the competent authorities. Moreover, consumers are the most careful judges of the final product and the ultimate beneficiaries of the large investments made by Italy’s food and beverage industry.