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ISSN 2611-8858

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Food-related Crimes

Corporate Liability for Food Crimes. Comparative Law Analysis and Italy Reform Prospects

Today the world food market is dominated by the food multinationals and characterized by corporate concentration, globalization and financialization. This situation makes it necessary that commercial companies be held liable for the commission of food crimes. With regard to the structure of corporate criminal responsibility, the paradigm based on the lack of internal organization appears to be the most suitable; moreover it is consistent with the inspiring philosophy of EU food regulation, according to which the relevant risks must be managed by companies in a preventive, systematic and documented manner. The poor legal certainty of the compliance program requirements can be addressed both through careful legislative reform and by applying, in practice, the guidelines emerging from European law, international soft law and private standardization actors, which have a long tradition in the field of food safety management systems. The recent Italian draft law on agri-food crimes proposed by the Caselli Commission is an appreciable effort to “codify” a standard organizational model for food enterprises. However the enhancement of hetero-standardization in this crucial sector shows several inconsistencies and it could raise a new wave of interpretative problems.

The “Caselli Commission” 2015 Project

The study analyses the agri-food and public health crimes reform Project conducted by the Caselli Commission on 14 October 2015, first focusing on the lack of current regulations both in the Penal Code and in Law no. 283/1962, then explaining the changes introduced by the Project in detail. The analysis reveals a significant demarcation in the criminal system between food safety (supplemental legislation) and public health (Penal Code), a relevant decriminalization of many offences included in art. 5 l. 283/1962, even if this is partly left to interpretation, and finally a deep innovation of the legal model of the misdemeanours. With regards to the relationship between Penal Code and supplemental law, the essay highlights how the importance of prevention increased thanks to the joint criminal and administrative discipline that regulates corporate liability for criminal code offences, but also thanks to criminal offences such as the production and sale of harmful substances for the purposes of wholesale or distribution, public health disaster with remote damages on unidentified victims, the omission to recall hazardous food-substances, and harmful food advertising.