You might want to think twice the next time you decide to splurge on that brick of Parmesan, hunk of prosciutto or aged olive oil from Italy at the grocery store. Turns out, they may not actually be Italian. And Italians aren’t exactly pleased that Canada is hocking goods with names and packaging that touts being the real thing.
That’s part of the reason a delegation has come to Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal this week, to help educate Canadians on what “Made in Italy” actually means. According to the Italian Trade Commission, Canadians buy roughly $3.6 billion worth of Italian-sounding products each year, most of them probably none the wiser.
“Italian-sounding imitations are not the same as certified Made in Italy products,” Italian Trade Commissioner to Canada, Pasquale Bova said in a release. “They are not subject to the same strict standards of production which determine the characteristics that make original Made in Italy products world-renowned.”
So basically, he’s calling out all those products with Italian flags, red-and-green packaging, or whose quality is actually fairly low considering the high price tags they come with.
He’s also calling attention to the fact that many of these products have regionally-derived names. Much like champagne is only champagne if it’s actually from Champagne (otherwise it’s sparkling wine), Italian ambassadors argue many of its products deserve the same treatment. Especially since they already receive that treatment in Europe and Italy.
According to the Commission, pasta, cured meats, canned foods, olive oils, balsamic vinegars and cheeses are among the most affected products.
Thanks to the upcoming Canadian free-trade agreement coming into effect next year, Canadian consumers could soon see small changes. Such as Gorgonzola cheese being re-branded as “gorgon zola” unless it’s from the appropriate area. Parmesan cheese will remain the same, however, no matter where it’s from (the real stuff comes from Parmigiano-Reggiano).
So how can you tell if you’re paying for the real deal? Be sure to read the labels — not only for the “Made in Italy” marking, but also to see if the region from which the product comes from matches up with this handy list.
Hey, if you’re going to shell out for the real deal, it might as well be the real deal, right?