Italian food products mostly natural: report

ROME, April 14 (Xinhua) -- Italian food products belong to the group in the world that has the smallest presence of chemical residues, Italy's largest farming association Coldiretti said in a recent report.
Only 0.6 percent of products made in Italy exceeded the allowed limit of chemical residues against 1.4 percent of products from other European countries and 5.7 percent of non-European ones, Coldiretti said based on data collected by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
"This record is the result of Italian farmers' commitment to high-quality agriculture in terms of food safety and environmental respect," Rolando Manfredini, quality head at Coldiretti, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
Manfredini explained the good practice was born in the 1980s when Italian farmers made the choice to adopt natural techniques to achieve good crop yields instead of using chemical pesticides.
Thus, year after year, the use of chemical agents to protect crops has diminished in the country to reach today's records, also helped by strict regulations adopted at the national level, he said.
As a consequence of this practice, Italy boasts the largest number of food certifications in the European Union (EU), the leadership in the number of organic enterprises, and is in first place for environmental sustainability as regards greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report.
The obtained results have also been maintained through the years by continuous controls and crackdown on counterfeit products by the country's police force, Coldiretti underlined.
Of course, the use of natural techniques in agriculture requires higher costs. However, this is offset by more competition of top-quality Italian products on the market, Manfredini explained to Xinhua.
A recent survey highlighted that more than 80 percent of Italians were willing to spend more in order to have the certainty of food products of Italian origin.
Among these, nearly 40 percent were willing to pay between five and 20 percent more and 12 percent were willing to pay as much as 20 percent more, said Coldiretti, which is currently struggling to introduce compulsory labeling requirements for all food products at the European level.

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