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Stop to cultivated – synthetic meat in Italy. Only real stuff

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In Italy, the production and marketing of food and feed derived from cell cultures, commonly referred to as ‘synthetic’ meat from bioreactors, are prohibited. Furthermore, the use of the term ‘meat’ for processed products containing plant proteins is also banned. The bill, endorsed by the Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, and the Minister of Health, Orazio Schillaci, was officially ratified yesterday in the Chamber of Deputies. The news was reported by ItaliaOggi.

This legislative initiative aims to safeguard human health, citizen interests, and preserve the national agri-food heritage. It aligns with the precautionary principle established in EU Regulation 178/2002, which outlines shared provisions on food safety.

The scope of the prohibitions and the penalties stipulated by the bill cover various activities such as sale, holding for sale, import, production for export, distribution, or administration for food consumption. This pertains to food and feed originating from, isolated or produced from cell or tissue cultures derived from vertebrate animals.

The enforcement of the law within the national territory involves several public institutions, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, autonomous regions and provinces, the competent departments of the Carabinieri, the Central Inspectorate for the Protection and Prevention of Fraud (Icqrf), the Customs Agency, the Guardia di Finanza, and the Harbour Offices.

Non-compliance with the prohibitions outlined in Italian law, subject to assessment by competent EU services, leads to various forms of sanctions. Administrative fines range from a minimum of EUR 10,000 to a maximum of EUR 60,000 or 10% of the total annual turnover of the offending company. Violators will be excluded from public aid schemes and denied access to various incentives and facilities, funded either nationally or by the EU, with the suspension period ranging from one to three years.

Additional sanctions include the potential closure of the production plant for a duration of one to three years. The determination of penalties considers factors such as the duration and severity of the breach and the operator’s willingness to rectify or mitigate the consequences of their actions.

A specific section of the legislation addresses the prohibition of using the term ‘meat’ to label processed products containing vegetable proteins. The provision is designed to protect the national livestock heritage and ensure that the production and marketing of products containing exclusively vegetable proteins in Italy comply with the prohibition on using legal names, including descriptive ones, associated with meat and its derivatives. Similarly, references to animal species and terminology specific to butcher’s shops, delicatessens, or fishmongers are also prohibited.

Masaf (Ministry for Agriculture and food production), responsible for overseeing food safety, is tasked with preparing a decree within 60 days of the new law coming into effect. This decree will contain a list of product names that cannot be attributed to vegetable products, as they may mislead consumers about the composition of the food.

So Italy becomes a country where the meat you eat is non-derived meat, protecting the health of Italians, but also of tourists.

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