EU Food Regulatory Disparities Highlight Need for Further Harmonization

Posted By: Selerant RSA

Europe’s food safety legislative framework has been shaped by the contributions of its individual member states and for the most part integrates the unique requirements of these members’ states into a cohesive framework, ensuring the conformity and standards of products circulating in Europe’s markets without imposing prohibitively stringent barriers to trade.  There are however some instances where major discrepancies between EU regulation and the individual implementation practices of member states can damage the competiveness of domestic markets.

The Orange juice based drinks in Italy

A prime example of this can be seen in the law published by the Italian parliament last November  N. 161 (in Italian) where the minimum concentration of orange juice in non-alcoholic beverages was increased from 12% to 20% for all products manufactured and sold in Italy. Interestingly the same requirements are not applicable for products for export purposes and sold in EU member states where the European minimum requirement of 12% is still applicable.  The application of Italy’s 20% rule for domestic products is clearly an attempt to safeguard and promote the Italian citrus industry with the ultimate goal of increasing the consumption of domestic produce amongst Italian consumers. Consumers are not however able to immediately distinguish the origin of products from the label alone and will instead need to consult the list of ingredients to ascertain the juice content of products which may negate the efficacy of Italy’s new law.

The Italian association of Citrus manufacturers recently declared that the new law will cause “irreversible damage” (in Italian) to the competiveness of Italian products in international markets. The association believes that Italian producers will be at a considerable disadvantage compared to their EU counterparts that can produce orange based drinks with just 12% juice content and are even more poorly positioned against countries where limits of just 3% are enforced. The new law could potentially require Italian producers involved in international trade to produce two product lines, one for domestic consumption that complies with the 20% rule and another for international consumption conforming to EU or other regulatory norms. The flipside of the argument is that Italian orange juice has a real chance to become synonymous with high quality, healthy products produced with high juice content.

To find more information about product standards and global food regulation such as juice regulations, beverages or other food categories you can access the Food Compliance Cloud, a global library of food regulations.