Italian Food Names
And Their Designations
As life was not already complicated enough with learning the proper italian food names, now even to taste your favorite italian food you need to cope with acronyms, cryptic symbols that the regulators have established should be present on all the food product labels, for products from the EU (European Union) to indicate their designation and as guarantee of quality and origin.
Even though I personally find this part of a sometimes too tight regulated direction from the authorities, the new denomination of the products can actually help the most casual buyer distinguish whether what they are buying is actually authentic, qualitatively genuine and traditional.
Naturally, for those of you already following Italian-Traditions.Com for a while now, you shall be knowing a trick or two about italian food and know what you're after when you're willing to buy a typical italian product.
Nonetheless, it may come in handy to be aware that such denominations exist and to learn how to distinguish them and to know what they really mean.
Wait a minute!
"Does that mean that, if I am not finding these symbols anywhere on the package or label of the product I just bought, then I have been fooled and this is not a genuine italian food product?" you might now ask.
NO, NO and NO!
This is the main reason why I am personally against such an overruling of these directions from the european union food authorities: based on a list, that has to be submitted by ministry of agriculture or other national authorities, food products "apply" to these denominations, sometimes to acquire an official status they would not otherwise have, without having the guarantee to be "accepted".
Now, you see the bias in this: some products that have been existing for hundreds of years NEED to be protected and preserved (and this is the positive part), but what about other products that have NOT been submitted or that are NOT "accepted"?
Does the fact that they do not appear on a list of designated italian food names list make them less traditional, historical or genuine ?
I believe not.
The risk here is that the panorama of the italian traditional food (and not only italian) is "flattened", losing the variety and diversity that makes it one of the richest in the world.
So, don't worry too much if you're not seeing the symbols on your product: if you trust its origin through the vendor (as it goes for pretty much everything else we buy nowadays), relax and enjoy. Chance is you're tasting a traditional food which is not (yet) recognized by a piece of paper as traditional...
Ok, I told you what my point of view on the regulation of italian food names is :-)
Enough with my babbling now: let's get deeper in the italian food names.
The Acronyms and The Symbols
In order to promote and preserve agrobusiness products, the European Union has created the following designations:
• DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta) or, in English, PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), which identifies the designation of a product, whose production, transformation and elaboration happen in a specific geographic area
• IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) or, in English, PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), which identifies the designation of a product for which at least one of the phases (production, transformation, elaboration) take place in a specific geographic area
• STG (Specialità Tradizionale Garantita) or, in English, TSG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed), that valorizes a traditional composition of the product or a traditional production method, but that does not refer to a specific place of origin
Italy has the highest number of PDO, PGI and TSG products in the EU.
What About the old "DOC" Denomination ?
Italian legislation has produced some additional, specific designation for agro business products.
DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or, in English, CDO (Controlled Designation of Origin) is a national certification system of the quality of the products which, after the introduction of the EU certification system, is now solely in use for quality wines.
• Vini a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) indicates the particularly high quality of some DOC wines, nationally and internationally known. To obtain the DOCG certification some specific requisites are to be met (like, for instance, the bottling within the area of origin and in containers of less than 5 liters in capacity. (Barolo, Chianti and Amarone della Valpolicella are an example).
• Vini a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) indicates quality wines originating from limited areas, mentioned in the name of the wine. The characteristics of the wine (acidity, color, odor, taste, among the others) must respect well defined regulations. (Lambrusco, Moscato d’Asti, Frascati are an example)
• Vini ad Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) indicates a lower designation than DOC and DOCG, mainly encompassing a wide range of quality table wines for which the pre-requisites are less restrictive.
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