Slow Food, an international movement that strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine, has started a petition on change.org to stop the usage of powdered milk in the production of cheese and dairy products. The petition will back up the Italian law established in 1974 that bans the usage of powdered milk for yogurt, caciotta, robiola, mozzarella cheese and other dairy products. It’s a law that contributes to protect Italy’s heritage in the field of cheese production and dairy traditions.
This law has been discusses starting from the decision of the European Commission, pressured by the Italian dairy industry itself, that has asked Italy to change 1974’s law by the end of July to guarantee free trade of goods. This action is an attempt, and not the first in its kind, to lower standards in the name of free market, at the expense of consumers and quality producers. The result of this change would increase quantity over quality, standardizing a product that is typical, unique and protected by definition. The production of regional cheeses is based upon the quality and origins of the milk used, enabling producers to use powdered milk would, for all intents and purposes, endanger DOP and IGP (protected geographical identity) products. Most of the consumers purchase products based on their price, and the usage of powdered milk would make the cost of production, and of sale, lower, along with its quality standards, thus making it less likely for consumers to rely on traditional and high quality dairy products.
Powdered milk poses no threats for the health of its consumers, but using it in the production of cheeses would only bring increased profits for the multinationals already involved in the dairy industry and a standardization of the product. The usage of powdered milk would also lead to a penalization of a high-quality product that should reflect the biodiversity of Italy and, along with it, it would also penalize local and family-owned businesses.
In this discussion, Slow Food claims that using powdered milk is the last attempt to lower and level the production of dairy products in favor of big companies that care more about profit than they do about biodiversity and quality. The petition was started by Slow Food in order to “mobilize the public opinion, and bring together consumers, shepherds, farmers, artisans and chefs to counter the latest attack made by European bureaucracy against quality production of made in Italy dairy products”.
The petition backs the Italian minister Martina, who fights to defend the Italian law on the subject and with it hundreds of small producers and the heritage of milks, techniques, traditions, professions and communities that make up the Italian dairy tradition.
The Italian dairy production is a vital aspect of Italian cuisine, and features as one of its most prominent and recognizable products Parmesan cheese, one of many cheeses that prides itself in its traditional and protected geographical origin of production.