Politics & Law

Italy Withdraws Controversial Bills to Ban Cultivated Meat & Restrict Plant-Based Meat Labels from EU Scrutiny 

According to the Good Food Institute Europe, the Italian government has withdrawn two draft laws from being considered by the European Union: the bill proposing a ban on the production and marketing of cultivated meat and a law to restrict the use of terms such as “salami” or “steak” in plant-based meat labels.

The proposed bill to ban cell-based foods aims to “protect” the country’s culture and food heritage from technological innovations, and the labeling restrictions, as noted in the draft, are measures to “avoid misleading nutritional claims” by plant-based meat companies.

Due to their potential impact on the region’s market, the European Commission and member states had to examine the draft laws before their adoption to assess their alignment with EU law, through a procedure called TRIS, explains the GFI.

Europa-Flagge im Wind
© Henner Damke – stock.adobe.com

According to the local press, the decision to remove the notification was made amidst ongoing parliamentary debates about the changes that the texts might undergo. However, after parliamentary approval, a new notification will be issued. 

The GFI’s Italian Public Affairs Consultant Francesca Gallelli commented: “It was only a few days ago that an official press release from the Minister of Agriculture, Francesco Lollobrigida, announced the imminent final approval of the bill.”

She adds, “It is crucial that parliament be given the opportunity to hold an open and informed debate to allow appropriate amendments enabling compliance with European law, and that the full EU review is permitted.” 

Lollobrigida, an enthusiast of the proposed bills, told Reuters last May that cultivated food is potentially dangerous for human health, referring to it as “slush.”

Meatable reveals process to make cultivated pork in just eight days
Image courtesy of Meatable

A sustainable single European market

Italy’s move to protect its traditions by banning innovations and restricting labels places the country behind other European governments’ sustainable efforts.

In 2022, the Netherlands allocated €60 million for the R&D of cultivated meat and precision fermentation and recently published a national action plan for plant-based foods. 

“We hope that Parliament will avert the adoption of a law that would cause a fragmentation of the single European market”  

The UK government announced £20 million in funding for sustainable proteins and an additional £12 million for a hub to accelerate cultivated meat. Catalonia just made a €7 million investment in a center for alt proteins, and the Spanish government invested €5.2 million in a project researching the potential of cultivated meat to reduce diet-related diseases. 

Even France, which continues its fight against plant-based meat labelling, has committed €8.3 million (as part of France 2030) to support a new project for local plant-based dairy innovation

“We hope that Parliament will avert the adoption of a law that would cause a fragmentation of the single European market and hinder the country’s sustainable growth, while also causing immediate damage to Italian companies in the sector,” Gallelli concludes.

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