Italy defends its olive oil and salami

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12:33 CET+01:00
Italy will on Thursday ask EU competition ministers to evaluate the effects a UK food labelling system, designed to fight obesity, is having on its famed food products such as olive oil, cheese and salami.

Italy has been complaining to the EU about the ‘traffic light’ labelling system ever since it was introduced by UK supermarkets last June and products including olive oil and mozzarella were given a negative “red”.

Concerned that the system could endanger the country's national products, ministers are attending a meeting in Brussels on Thursday during which they will ask the EU to evaluate the effects the system will have on the “EU market, on industrial competitiveness, on the correct information for consumers, and of the safeguarding of quality brands", the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Health campaigners in the UK have praised the system, which targets food high in fat, sugar and salt. The UK has said it is intended to reduce obesity rates and not manipulate consumer choices.

But Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin hit back in December, saying that “scaring consumers is wrong” and that the Mediterranean diet should instead be promoted.

"[It's about] eating more fish, white meat, olive oil, fresh fruit and vegetables - and less bread and pasta," she said.

Other proud nations backing the campaign against the system include Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and Ireland.

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The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) says that “any red(s) on the label means the food is high in fat, saturated fat, salt or sugars and these are the foods we should cut down on”.

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