Powdered Milk in Cheese: All Lined Up Against Europe

The European Union has demanded that by September 29, Italy must repeal its law banning the use of powdered milk in cheesemaking. Slow Food has responded to this meddling—the only way to define the EU’s position—by launching a petition, which in a short span of time has already collected 150,000 signatures. The front of dissent has now broadened greatly: Thanks to a push from us and Coldiretti, municipalities, regional authorities, members of parliament and professional organizations have all taken a stand. In effect, a vast movement has been created, which reveals a clear perception of the high quality of our cheeses, and a fear that the use of powdered milk could compromise this quality. This resistance does not derive from a hoax, as one story has claimed, but from the concern that opening up the market to foreign powdered milk could aggravate the crisis the dairy sector has been experiencing for years.

Italy’s Agriculture Minister, Maurizo Martina, has a tough nut to crack. The injunction cannot be ignored, but neither can public opinion, which is completely set against the measure. Vice-Minister Andrea Olivero, during the inauguration of Cheese, declared that the government will oppose the demand by every means possible. However, we wish a legal expert would explain to us why Europe is against a national law that is more restrictive than EU law. The EU tolerates the laws of northern European countries against raw-milk cheeses. Doesn’t that also contravene free trade? The countries that allow raw-milk production (France, Italy, Spain, Portugal) are restricted in what they can export. Isn’t there a clear disparity? Whatever way the dispute is resolved, we must at least demand that the presence of an ingredient like powdered milk is stated on the label, so that consumers can make an informed decision.

 

Piero Sardo

From La Stampa, September 20, 2015

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