Wine labels like cigarettes, Italy’s protest: “It’s a healthy food”

The absurd decision against wine, as Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called it, comes from one of the capitals of beer. The idea of ​​appearing on the labels of European bottles, from Prosecco to Champagne, from Barolo to Bordeaux reds, an inscription that warns: alcohol and fatal tumors are connected. A blow for the Italian vineyard which exports almost 8 billion euros a year, invoices 14.

States have been clashing in Brussels on the issue of alcohol and health for years, Nordics on one side, countries with a wine vocation on the other. In the 2021 anti-cancer plan, labels with the health alarm were provided for wine and spirits. Like the ones on cigarette packs. Italy, France and Spain, along with other countries, had opposed it. In February, the European Parliament had decided to remove references to cancer on labels, considering that there is a difference between harmful and moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages.

Ireland cracked down on alcohol in 2016. In June it sent the EU legislation introducing health warning labels. The tacit assent of the EU sparked the case. The push to influence the markets and not to protect health – protested the Minister of Agriculture Francesco Lollobrigida – comes from nations that do not produce wine and where spirits are abused. Like Ireland.

The Italian sector associations are ready to get on the barricades again, because the choice of Dublin could be imitated by other countries. Lollobrigida and Tajani have written to the Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, asking for action against Ireland’s arbitrary and distortive measures.

On one point, Italian producers and politicians are united, and Lollobrigida sums it up as follows: We want to equate it to spirits, but wine used in a moderate way is a healthy food. The Dublin decision and the European green light are disconcerting, the concept that a minimum quantity of wine promotes cancer – reflects Riccardo Cotarella, world president of oenologists -. The typical Irish dish is the stew, if you eat three kilos of it a day you’re sick. So for alcohol, it is not the consumption that is harmful, but the abuse. We are for moderate and intelligent consumption. Just today, in Naples, Cotarella will open a conference of Assoenologists with 18 doctors on wine, health, nutrition and well-being.

Dublin’s move is an alarmist move that does not fight the problem of alcoholism, he reflects Matteo Lunelli, president of Cantine Ferrari, which exports 1.5 million bottles of Trentodoc sparkling wine. We are very attentive to wholesomeness and responsible drinking, but this penalizes wine, which is part of our culture, putting it on a par with cigarettes and spirits.

On alcohol and health, the endless debate and research (230,000 have been counted) are discordant. Emanuele Scafato, director of the alcohol observatory of the Istituto Superiore di Sanit, claims that scientific evidence indicates that it is not possible to define a safe quantity of alcohol with respect to any damage to health. But the Mediterranean diet (Unesco Heritage since 2010) allows a couple of glasses a day for men, and one for women.

Drinking wine in moderation is healthy and makes you live longer, Attilio Giacosa, head of Gastroenterology in Monza, explained at the World Forum of wine cooperatives in Faenza.. Wine consumed during meals does not create the problems associated with spirits, adds Luigi Moio, president of the World Organization of Vine and Wine.

The battle will last at least another two months, the time available to the World Trade Organization to give or not the green light to the labels with the alarm.

Wine labels like cigarettes, Italy’s protest: “It’s a healthy food”