Italian group seeks Irish support for campaign to stop food fraud

Proposals to be unveiled at Expo 2015 in Milan

At the the Italian Institute of Culture yesterday for the presentation of Expo Milano 2015 were  (from left) Fabrizio Sala, under secretary for Expo 2015, business internalisation; Gianni Fava, regional minister of agriculture, Lombardy; and the Italian ambassador to Ireland Giovanni Adorni Braccesi. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

At the the Italian Institute of Culture yesterday for the presentation of Expo Milano 2015 were (from left) Fabrizio Sala, under secretary for Expo 2015, business internalisation; Gianni Fava, regional minister of agriculture, Lombardy; and the Italian ambassador to Ireland Giovanni Adorni Braccesi. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 01:00

The regional minister for agriculture in Italy’s Lombardy region, Gianni Fava, has urged Ireland to support his region’s campaign to combat food fraud. Mr Fava led a a delegation from Lombardy to Dublin yesterday to seek Irish support for its plans.

Italy is hosting Expo Milano 2015 with the theme: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. Mr Fava said he hoped to be able to present a plan to tackle food fraud, agreed by EU states, at the international exhibition.

Along with France and Spain, Italy is one of the most frequently targeted countries by food fraudsters. Criminals use Italian-sounding labels on food and carry the colours of the Italian flag and landmarks such as Milan Cathedral or the Coliseum on their products to make them look authentic.

Products such as cheeses, hams and and salamis are often targeted and Italians believe people try to capitalise on the world-famous reputation of Italian cuisine to gain a competitive edge.

One 2011 report estimated that the turnover of “Italian-sounding” products was more than 2½ times greater than the total value of all Italian agri-food exports.

Mr Fava said the fraudulent labelling of food was a problem for all of Europe but particularly for countries with high standards of production.

“We produce better food in Ireland and Italy and therefore we have more costs. Our products have a higher price and consumers all over the world, in the US or China, for instance must understand that there is a premium paid for better quality and the safety of the product,” he said.

The delegation met representatives from bodies such as the Irish Farmers’ Association, Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and the IDA. It is asking EU states to share information on food fraud, promote the adoption of an international agreement against this fraud and work to ensure that fraudulent food arriving in one part of Europe is not distributed throughout the EU.