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  • Avv. Paola Corte

What is food law and why is it important?

Food law regulates food safety, food quality, food sustainability, and food information

Food law is the branch of legislation that covers all sectors of the food chain, including feed production, primary production, food processing, storage, transport and retail sale of food & beverages. Food legislation is primarily set to ensure food safety, quality, and more recently sustainability. It establishes procedures for emergency situations such as alerts, product withdrawals and recalls. It regulates the communication of food information both to consumers and b2b, through rules concerning labelling, presentation and advertising.

Italian and European Food Law

Food is governed both by Italian and European food laws. General food law requirements, especially related to food safety, food labelling and food composition are harmonized at EU level. However, national regulations, laws and interpretations are also applicable and relevant. Italian and European food legislation are strictly intertwined and frequently overlap, making the interpretation of the laws particularly complicated. Commission notices, national bulletins and circular letters, and established jurisprudence both by the European Court of Justice and by national judicial authorities are essential in understanding the practical application and the nuances of food law in Member States.

Enforcement and Sanctions for Violations of food law

The management of the production, distribution and administering of food & beverages can set forth a wide variety of controls. In spite of the efforts to harmonize food legislation inside the European Union, however, each country maintains different sanctioning systems for food related problems. Since food is such an important part of the national culture, in Italy all food related issues are taken quite seriously. Some breaches of the law are punished with regulatory sanctions, whereas most violations are punished as crimes.

Understanding Food Law

The understanding and practicing of food law is extremely challenging.

Italian and European food law are constantly evolving and remaining updated requires a daily review of both the Italian and European Official Journals and several other sources of relevant information.

Moreover, the understanding of food legislation and food related issues requires the knowledge of subjects that have nothing to do with law. For instance, one must know the basic food production techniques and the most common types of food related frauds, have an understanding of scientific subjects such as food microbiology and chemistry, and comprehend marketing strategies.

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food law experts, partners of Studio Legale Corte: Elena Corte, Andrea Corte and Paola Corte
Studio Legale Corte - food law firm since 1921

Studio Legale Corte - food law firm since 1921

Studio Legale Corte is a boutique food law firm: it is Italy's oldest food law firm, founded in 1921.

Studio Legale Corte represents defendants accused of food related crimes in criminal law suits, and challenges regulatory sanctions on behalf of its clients. The expertise gained with the judicial activity allows Studio Legale Corte's lawyers to offer sound legal advice. Assessments by our firm are based not only on the evolution of food law, but also on the interpretation of the laws given by authorities inflicting the sanctions, and on the defendability of each claim in light of the established jurisprudence. This knowledge enables Studio Legale Corte to help the clients avoid challenges, long before avoiding convictions.


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