The European Commission has indicated that Italy breached EU law when it passed a ban on cultivated meat and the use of meat-related terms for plant-based products. 

A communication from the Commission demonstrates that Italy tried to bypass the TRIS procedure –  a directive designed to stop regulatory barriers arising within the EU’s internal market – in order to speed up the ban’s approval. 

The directive requires that EU member states and the Commission are given the opportunity to comment on draft legislation that could hinder the European single market before it is approved. By issuing the ban, the Italian government decided that the other members would review the law only after its passing. According to the Commission, this would make the law potentially unenforceable. 

Issued on 1 December 2023, Italy’s ban prohibits the sale and marketing of any cultivated meat products. 

Cultivated meat by French start-up Vitalmeat.
Cultivated meat by French start-up Vitalmeat.

Francesca Gallelli, Public Affairs Consultant at the Good Food Institute Europe, said: “From the beginning, we have reported the violation made by Italy, aimed at adopting the law as soon as possible, without slowdowns resulting from the TRIS procedure. As the Commission pointed out, however, with this move, Italy may have rushed to adopt an unenforceable law. 

“The Italian government should now use this window for a change of course. In Europe, it asked the European Commission last week for transparent, evidence-based consultations on cultivated meat. With the ban now potentially unenforceable, the same must be done in Italy – this time before adopting a disproportionate and unfair ban on cultivated meat.”

Last week, Italy joined France and Austria in submitting a note containing misinformation on the  ethical and environmental qualities of cultivated meat products during a meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers. The note received support from several member states while being challenged by some countries such as The Netherlands and Denmark. 

As of now, the sale of certain cultivated meat products is only legal in Singapore, the US, and Israel. However, Australia is expected to approve its first cultivated meat products within this year and the Dutch government has recently granted approval for several controlled tasting sessions. 

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