The Italian Almanac

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The Fridge of Horrors

Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia is to unveil a `fridge of horrors` in order to raise public awareness of the problem of counterfeit versions of Italian products. ``It will be a refrigerator chock-full of all the disgusting things we have confiscated in the last eight months,`` Zaia explained, stressing that only around one out of ten products with labels claiming to be Made in Italy are actually authentic.

Among items on show in the fridge will be pasta produced in Arab countries, Chinese mozzarella and United States `parmesan`. Zaia said the government was fighting copycat products with `zero tolerance` at national level that had already seen results, but said it was now necessary to ``bang our fists on international tables. Within the context of the World Trade Organisation, countries must create common rules for the market but also rules to defend the identity of products``. Zaia meanwhile reiterated calls for Italians to respect a `kilometre zero` campaign by eating seasonal fruit and vegetables grown in Italy. He said a pineapple strike he had called in December had proven successful, with a 25% drop in the consumption of exotic fruit.

Many Italian products are already protected by existing EU regulations that lay down strict rules on the item`s origin and the manufacturing process. No ham made outside the Parma area, for example, can bear the label Parma ham. But these requirements do not apply to items manufactured and sold outside the EU, nor to the many products sold inside the bloc that are not on the EU register, for example pasta sauces.

Nearly 40% of all phoney Italian products are sold inside the EU, according to farmers` association CIA. Producers recently warned that fake products were costing Italian farmers more than 60 billion euros each year.