Greece to impose country of origin labelling on milk in 2018

The growing trend imposing country of origin labelling has angered the food industry, which believes that the EU single market risks to be disrupted. [Shutterstock]

Greece plans to make country of origin labelling on milk mandatory from 2018, joining the growing trend of more precise food labelling in EU countries, which has angered the food industry.

Agriculture Minister Evangelos Apostolou said on Thursday (7 September) parliament would vote on a bill regulating the milk labelling next week, while sources from the ministry told the measure had already been given the go-ahead by the European Commission.

Commission sources confirmed that Greece notified the executive on 22 September 2016.

The sources said the main purpose was to make sure that consumers are not misled. According to Eurostat, the EU statistics office, Greek fresh milk is the third most expensive in Europe, after Italy and Cyprus.

“Livestock associations have reported cases where milk was sold as fresh without pointing out that it’s coming from abroad,” the sources emphasised.

Minister Apostolou pointed out that the bill also regulates a reduction in farmers’ payment time to 60 days at the most, and stressed that the government’s goal is to support and shield the sector.

Food industry upset over obligatory labelling of origin of pasta and rice

Italy’s decision to impose mandatory labelling on pasta and rice packaging has triggered protests from the food industry, which has called on the European Commission to cancel the measure.

Industry up in arms

The growing trend of imposing country of origin labelling has angered the food industry, which has warned that it risks disrupting the EU single market.

“If the EU community starts to allow individual countries to take protectionist measures, then it’s the end. The fragmentation that is going to be created by this is absolutely undermining the single market and the EU should stay firm in this,” Marco Settembri, Nestlé’s CEO Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa (EMENA), told EURACTIV in an interview in July. Settembri is also a board member of FoodDrinkEurope.

Nestlé boss: Simplified food labels will better inform consumers

Simplified food label schemes like the UK-style traffic light will provide EU consumers clear and simple elements and therefore, better inform them, Marco Settembri told in an interview.

Earlier this month, Italy took similar measures without notifying the European Commission. The Italian ministries of agriculture and economic development decided that pasta and rice packaging will have to include the origin of durum wheat and rice, and Rome said this week it would extend the measure to tomato products as well.

Italy to extend country of origin labelling to tomato products

The Italian ministry of agriculture declared its intention on Monday (4 September) to include the origin of primary ingredients on the labels of tomato-based products, drawing criticism from the European food and drink industry for “undermining the EU single market for food”.

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