Italian Food Certifications: what does DOP, IGP and STG mean?
Italy is the European country with the highest number of “agro-food” protected products in Europe, holding over 290 DOP, IGP or STG certified products. For the number of food certifications the country is recognized for a variety of foods excellent in taste, authenticity, and genuineness.
DOP IGP and STG are certifications often found on labels of products found in Italy. Basically, being awarded any one of these labels means that the product guarantees a traditional taste as well as high quality and reliability of who produces it. Let’s take a closer look to the significance of each one of these labels.
DOP – Denominazione d’Origine Protetta ( Protected Designation of Origin [P.D.O.] certification)
DOP label requires that a food product be produced within the specified region using defined methods that satisfy a defined quality standard. A DOP certification guarantees that a product and all phases of production for that product have been carried out in a strictly defined geographic area, that can be sometimes as small as a few villages. In addition, the production method has to follow very strict regulation and is examined by experts to guarantee quality.
This mark is guaranteed by the European Community (EU) and was created to promote the authenticity and artisan characteristics of certain food and agricultural products.
IGP – Indicazione Geografica Protetta ( Protected Geographical Indication [P.G.I.] certification )
The IGP label applies slightly less stringent regulations than the DOP label. Generally, it specifies that the quality of the food product is directly linked to the region where it is produced, processed, or prepared.
The label is awarded to food products from specific regions in Italy guaranteeing the authenticity and traditional production methods. However, the specifications of this label permit that any of the prime ingredients used in the recipe can be imported from outside locations.
STG – Specialita’ Tradizionale Garantita ( Traditional Specialty Guaranteed [T.S.G.] certification )
This label is awarded when typical Italian recipes are manufactured using traditional ingredients. The production of these is not necessarily related to the area of origin, but the recipe/production method must be authentic. Once the production specification has been approved, the recipe is then available to anyone, regardless of their location in the European Union.
It is also not a prerequisite that these products are manufactured in any specific geographical region but they must be traditional and differentiating to other similar products.
The two most famous Italian products holding STG labels are Mozzarella di Buffala and Neapolitan Pizza.
The importance of these certifications?
It is known that the market for hypothetical Italian-named products is strongly in demand, but if you check the label you will notice that very few of these products are in fact Made In Italy.
The food certifications mentioned above, not only guarantee that the food products are Made In Italy, but that they are produced following strict quality regulations. The Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies have made public a link with a list of all the food certifications which can be reviewed (http://www.politicheagricole.it).
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