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* Host institution of the national EFSA Focal Point. For information on the EFSA Focal Point network, please see the EFSA website.
Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law is the central legal foundation for food legislation in Italy. Infringement of food regulations can lead to measures under criminal law and consumer damage claims under civil law, whereby the final decision rests with the courts.
Government measures concerning food safety are based on scientific evidence and, more particularly, on scientific risk assessments.
In Italy, risk assessment and risk management are institutionally separated. Risk assessments are usually published on the Internet.
Ministry of Health
|Name||Ministry of Health|
In Italy, most of the mandates for food and feed safety, animal health and animal welfare are assigned at the national level to the Ministry of Health (MdS) (reorganised by the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers No. 59 of 11 February 2014), and, in particular, to the:
- Directorate General for Animal Health and Veterinary Medicine (DGAHVM)
- Directorate General for Food Hygiene, Food Safety and Nutrition (DGFHFSN)
- Directorate General of Collegial Bodies for Health Protection (DGCBHP) (Offices 2 and 3)
- General Secretariat (Office 3).
The Directorate General of Collegial Bodies for Health Protection (DGCBHP) is the national reference authority for the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and is the EFSA Focal Point in Italy. Its Director General is a member of EFSA’s Advisory Forum. The DGCBHP is responsible for coordinating risk assessment processes and implementing risk assessments for physical, chemical and biological hazards for food safety purposes.
In addition, the DGCBHP is responsible for consulting with consumer and producer associations, undertaking preliminary investigations and coordinating risk assessment processes. All activities related to risk assessments and consultations with associations are carried out with the support of the two specific sections of the National Committee for Food Safety (CNSA). In particular, the Food Safety Section provides scientific advice at the request of the central competent authorities as well as the competent authorities of the regions and autonomous provinces.
The remit of the MdS includes official controls during import of food and feed, general food and feed hygiene, novel food, food supplements, labelling and nutrition, food contact materials, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), zoonoses, residues of plant protection products, and veterinary medicinal products. The MdS is the regulatory authority for plant protection products and veterinary medicinal products and may conduct audits and inspections of the regional competent authorities.
Italy introduced administrative sanctions against violations of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002 by Legislative Decree No. 190/2006, and implemented the EU Hygiene Package by Legislative Decree No. 193/2007, which identifies the national competent authorities for official controls. In cases where an identified nonconformity may represent a danger to public health, criminal charges will also be brought.
All control activities performed by the central and local competent authorities are integrated in a multi-annual national control plan (MANCP) developed in compliance with Title V of Regulation (EC) No. 2017/625.
The MANCP is developed in collaboration with all competent authorities: the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS – National Institute of Health), the Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes (IZSs), the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry (MASAF), the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security, the regions and autonomous provinces, the Customs Agency, the Carabinieri for Health Protection (NAS), the State Forestry Corps (CUFAA), the port authorities, and the Ministry of Finance's Police Force.
Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry
|Name||Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry|
Within the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry (MASAF), the Department of Competitive Policies, Agri-food Quality, Fisheries and Horseracing is responsible for the coordination of activities related to the quality of agricultural products and food. The Directorate General of Competitive Policies for Rural Development is responsible for plant health, seeds, propagation material, fertilisers and some aspects of the field of plant protection products, as well as for husbandry and products of animal origin.
The Central Inspectorate for Quality Controls and Antifraud of Foodstuff and Agricultural Products (ICQRF) is the law enforcement body of the MASAF responsible for fraud prevention. It carries out controls on labelling and quality of foodstuffs, agricultural product feed, fertilisers and plant protection products via its own laboratory network.
National Institute of Health
|Name||National Institute of Health|
At the national level, the National Institute of Health (ISS) is a technical and scientific public body of the Italian National Health Service. The ISS (which is under the remit of MH) supervises the laboratories of the Italian National Health Service engaged in food and feed control and performs confirmatory analyses. Its activities include research, control, training and consultation in the interest of public health protection. One of the activities carried out by the institute consists in supporting inspections and quality controls of food products and packaging at the request of the Ministry of Health or the regions.
Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes
|Name||Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes|
The 10 Experimental Zooprophylactic Institutes (IZS) are official laboratories operating at the local and national level as technical and scientific public sector bodies of the Italian National Health Service, within the remit of the competent authorities (Ministry of Health and regions). One of the activities carried out by the IZSs consists in supporting inspections and quality controls of food products and packaging, at the request of the Ministry of Health or the regions.
All the official laboratories, including those mentioned in the ‘Regional and local levels’ section, are accredited for specific activities by the National Accreditation Body (ACCREDIA), nominated by the government under Regulation (EC) No. 765/2008 and operating under the supervision of the Ministry of Economic Development.
Regional and local levels
Except for the matters explicitly reserved to the central government, responsibility for controls has been devolved to the regional level. The 19 regions and 2 autonomous provinces have responsibility, within their territories, for planning, coordination, guidance, authorisation, and verification, while the operational implementation of controls is handled at the local level by 123 local units with a high degree of managerial autonomy. Local units are responsible for local controls on animal health, animal welfare and food both of animal and non-animal origin. The analyses are conducted by official laboratories: the network of the 10 IZSs, the network of 27 Regional Agencies for Environment Protection (ARPA) and the network of 16 public health laboratories.