academia barilla  December 2006

Some great DOP products

Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or DOP for short, is a fantastic recognition.As [...]

Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or DOP for short, is a fantastic recognition.As I briefly described in my previous post, DOP is an EU and Italian government protection given to certain foods that are so spectacular, so traditional, and so integral to the Italian food culture that they must be given governmental protection to ensure their quality will not be compromised.

North American audiences might think this is a little crazy. Protecting food by giving the government power to regulate what can and can’t be called “Pizza” or “Baby Back Ribs” or “Potato” – you must be pazzo!

Well, consider it this way – DOP is a government-assisted branding program. That’s right – that way every time you eat Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, you’ll understand that a long checklist of standards were upheld each step of the process of making that fantastic, nutty, tasty cheese.

No matter where you go in the world, if you’re eating the Parmigiano-Reggiano “brand” of cheese, it is guaranteed to be the same. The pizza joint around the corner can’t say that about their “Pizza,” now can they?!?

Because certain Italian foods are so important to our society, economy, and way of life, we’re grateful that there is government assistance to help protect these quality traditional foods.

Italian DOP product samplesDOP Protection applies to a good amount of food products, some of which I am sure you’re familiar with. Besides Parmigiano-Reggiano, the EU and Italian governments also stipulate the production methods of the following: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Prosciuttos di Parma and di San Daniele, Extra-Virgin Olive Oils from areas in Puglia, Liguria, Tuscany, Campania and elsewhere, and many cheeses from throughout the Italian peninsula.

In fact, well over 100 products, including some breads and pastas, are considered DOP, and their combined production and consumption totals an impressive $6 Billion Euro or so every year (source: Italy’s Confederation of Agriculturalists)

A smaller, but still quite important, label that sometimes accompanies discussion of DOP is “IGP” – Indicazione di Geografica Protetta.

This label mostly refers to local fruits and vegetables, like Sicily’s famous Blood Oranges, or the incredible Capers from the Isle of Pantelleria. IGP is very similar to the wine appellation “IGT” – Indicazione di Geografica Tipica, meaning that a wine was grown in a particular region like Tuscany or the Veneto. Generally speaking, these IGP and IGT labels are given to more broadly produced products and are a little less stringent in scope.

Starting with next post, we’ll start discovering and analyzing the DOP production, selection and manufacturing of some of the most mouth-watering Italian gourmet food.

See you back on Italian Food Lovers!

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