Animal welfare in Italy: non-compliance is an offence

Italy is in line with other European countries in terms of safeguarding the minimum conditions of animal welfare. A peculiar aspect of the country, however, is made up of the larger number of controls resulting from the presence in the Criminal Code of the offense of cruelty to animals.

Article 544-ter of Law 198 of 2004, amended by Law 201 of 2010, states that there is a crime when an animal is subjected to injury, abuse, unbearable conduct or hardships, or to treatments from which derive damage to its health or moreover when it is subjected to the administration of prohibited substances.

The offense is connected with the exercise of the profession, and all persons who come into contact with the animal in the breeding, transport and slaughter are punishable.

The inclusion in the Criminal Code leads to a widening of the prohibitions with respect to the provisions of the Community legislation (any act involving unjustified suffering to the animal is potentially punishable), but also to a widening of the spectrum of the persons responsible for monitoring.

Any supervisory body active in the sector of food business operators (from the traffic corps to the NAS – Italian Food Anti-sophistication police) can in fact carry out controls and file a complaint.

It should also be remembered that in Italy a “National Plan for Animal Welfare” has been active since2010; it defines the criteria and monitoring programs by the competent Sanitary Authority with the aim not only to verify the application of national and Community legislation concerning the protection of animals on farms, but also to provide information, explanations and guidelines for the breeding of various species.


The Sustainable Meat Project

The "Sustainable Meats" Project aims to identify the key topics, the state of knowledge and the most recent technical scientific trends, with the aim of showing that meat production and consumption can be sustainable, both for health and for the environment.