Fab food and counterfeit food products

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One of Italy’s exhibits for Expo, “Fab Food: The factory of Italian flavor”, was recently unveiled in a presentation at the National Science and Technology Museum in Milan. Luigi Scordamaglia, president of the Italian food industry association Federalimatare, took the occasion to remind those present that 1.2 million people are buying Italian food and that 60% of these buyers are habitual consumers. The “Fab Food” initiative, borrowing directly from the famous nickname for the Beatles, will occupy a large area in the Italian Pavilion during the upcoming Expo in Milan, and it will not only be focused on exhibiting the merits of our food but also will be a showcase for the Italian supply chain and industrial technologies. In fact, one of the objectives of the exhibit is to offer emerging countries a sustainable industrial development model based on the structural characteristics of the supply chain. In addition, it will be a display of Italian technology and knowhow. The sustainability of this industrial model is easily seen in the numbers regarding the food industry’s continually decreasing impact on the environment. Just to cite a few, 50% reduction of water use in the last 30 years, while in the last decade, 20% less energy consumed, 30% fewer carbon emissions and 40% less raw materials used in packaging. Alongside the endeavors of the entire Italian food sector to guarantee food safety and quality to the one million plus consumers worldwide, the Italian government is also battling issues such as food counterfeiting and organized crime, which are undermining the credibility of our food. The Italian Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is waging a war to stop this, involving European and international control agencies as well, in order to coordinate together to eliminate this activity which, should be highlighted, is criminal by nature. It has been announced just recently that the Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando, has pulled together a committee to study the problem of agri-food crime and the task force will be led by Judge Gian Carlo Caselli, who is president of the National Science Committee for the Observatory on Criminality in Agriculture and the Agribusiness System. This Observatory has made known that the increase in this type of criminal activity over the past few years is due to several factors, among them climate change, recession and limited availability of credit. Italy is giving it utmost attention to this problem, especially at this time when Expo offers an opportunity for extraordinary visibility of the “Made in Italy” brand. As a consequence, there is a danger of thousands of tons of goods and food products flooding the market, items that, through sophisticated methods of alteration and copying, could make their way to the market and be passed off as typical products or Italian specialties, with a market value that is estimated at reaching 60 billion Euros. The risk is real and primarily affects Italy but doesn’t exclude others, especially European countries. In any case, the result is always the same; agribusiness crime impoverishes the country and weakens a healthy marketplace and economy.

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