The European Commission has sent an official letter to Italy asking for it to abolish the national law banning the use of “milk powder, condensed milk and reconstituted milk” in the manufacture of dairy products. According to Brussels, Italy must conform to the European regulations that allow these ingredients, and the current Italian law prohibiting these milk surrogates represents a “restriction on the free movement of goods.”
In Slow Food’s opinion, this imposition is not only wrong and detrimental to the protection of biodiversity, but Italy should in fact become an example for quality European cheesemaking. We need to work towards greater awareness at a European level, with the aim of bringing the laws of other countries in line with the Italian legislation.
“We hope that the Italian government will defend this law,” said Piero Sardo, President of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. “After chocolate without cocoa butter and wine without grapes, big business is now trying to attack another key sector of the Italian food industry, with a race to the bottom. If this new demand is accepted, Italy’s quality dairy sector, already crushed by too-low milk prices and the challenges facing those who farm in the mountains, will suffer severe consequences. Slow Food has been fighting for years to promote raw-milk cheeses, mountain cheesemaking, traditional techniques and native breeds. Our commitment dates back to the first edition of Cheese, in 1997, when we began gathering signatures on a petition in favor of raw milk, which was then delivered to the European institutions. The best producers from around Europe will be in Bra this September to join us in the fight against this latest absurdity and to work towards the Italian example being extended to the rest of Europe.”
Slow Food has long been working to protect traditional, artisanal, quality dairy products. Many cheesemakers have to face challenges linked to bureaucracy, production and marketing costs on a daily basis. We must defend this type of production and fight the trend towards the standardization of ingredients, techniques and provenance. This is why it is essential to provide information about the origin of products, for example by paying closer attention to food labels, giving consumers a better understanding and allowing them to make conscious decisions about what to eat and, consequently, what type of farming they want to support.