Italy's Regulation of Neapolitan Pizza Production
1. The Issue
On Wednesday, May 25th Italian Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno traveled to Naples to
commemorate the new legal regulations "regarding the STG (Guaranteed Traditional Specialty) seal of
quality for Neapolitan pizza" (Italy Global Nation). The standards, printed in the nation's Gazzetta Ufficiale,
now govern the shape, dimensions, ingredients, and even the way Neapolitan pizzas are made. It is
unclear how the Italian authorities will be enforcing these new rules, though they have caused quite a stir
in pizzerias throughout Italy, as well as the world. Many believe that these regulations are simply a means
by which Italy might increase its exports. However, the Italian government claims that it is protecting the
quality of what it calls a 'cultural commodity.' These measures represent "the first step towards including
the Neapolitan pizza among products recognised by the European Union as guaranteed traditional
specialities" (Buzzle.com). While pizza production is not the sole domain of Italian pizzerias, the regional
distinction of Neapolitan-style pizzas might be recognized internationally in the near future.
Contrary to popular belief, Italians did not 'invent' the pizza, though they may certainly be credited with
perfecting the dish. The actual origin of pizza has been clouded by legends and divergent accounts. What
historians have discerned is that during the height of the Roman Empire, the peoples of Greece, Egypt,
the Levant, and even Bablyon commonly ate flat, unleaven bread covered with herbs and spices. In
particular, the Greeks were among the first to "bake large, round and flat breads which they topped with ...
olive oils, spices, potatoes, and other things" (InMamasKitchen.com). These early "pizza breads" probably served a
dual purpose in ancient times - they were relatively cheap to make, using readily available ingredients, and were
a useful and nutrious medium by which to eat everyday foods (thus little mess and waste). These pita-like breads
laid the foundation for the modern-day pizza.
According to one legend, the pizza first 'arrived' in Italy when "Roman soldiers returning from Palestina,
where they had been compelled to eat matzoh among the Palestinian Jews, developed a dish called picea
upon gratefully returning to the Italian peninsula" (Verace Pizza Napoletana). However, pizza did not
become popular meal in the country until the 1700s. Throughout Italian cities, street vendors with
mobile ovens would sell cheap, plain pizzas, with little or no toppings. These pizzas were quite filling, thus
the food was extremely popular among Italy's poor. These pizzas were still lacking two key ingredients that
are essential in pizzas today -- namely tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. The tomato was actually
introduced to Europe by Spanish soldiers, who returned from Latin America with them. At first the fruit was
considered poisonous, however it slowly gained acceptance as an edible food. Similarly, the Indian water
buffalo, from whose milk mozzarella cheese is made from, wasn't introduced to Italy until the 18th century
In the late 1800s, Italy's King Umberto and Queen Margherita toured their kingdom, arriving in Naples'
Campania region. As the Queen explored the city, she noticed the peasantry eating pizzas, and decided
to try one herself. She was impressed by the taste of the dish, and called upon a local pizza-maker,
Rafaelle Esposito, to make a variety of pizzas for her. "To honor the Queen ... Rafaelle decided to make a
very special pizza just for her. He baked a pizza topped with tomatoes, mozarella cheese, and fresh basil
(to represent the colors of the Italian flag: red, white, and green)" (InMamasKitchen.com). This became the
Queen's favorite pizza, and it now bears her name. Because the Queen enjoyed pizzas so much, it
became popular throughout Italy, even among the aristocracy, who initially balked at the idea of eating
Pizzas have evolved since Queen Margherita's visit to Naples centuries ago, with many varieties and
combinations found around the world. In an effort to implement a degree of uniformity, and 'stake its claim'
in what is seen as a cultural commodity, the Italian government has recently imposed a series of
regulations that will specify what can and cannot be called a Neapolitan pizza. So far, they only recognize
three types of Neapolitan pizzas, Marinara (garlic and oregano), Margherita (basil and mozzarella cheese),
and extra-Margherita (tomatoes, basil, and buffalo mozzarella). According to these rules, "Neapolitan pizza
[s] must be round, no more than 14 inches in diameter, [and] no thicker that 0.1 inches in the middle, with
a crust [of] about 0.8 inches thick" (CNN). Furthermore, the pizza's dough must be kneaded manually and
must be baked in a wood-fired oven. All the ingredients in an 'authentic' Neapolitan pizza, such as
tomatoes, flour, yeast, and cheese, must come from Italy. "The cheese on the classic pizza margherita
must be mozzarella "from the southern Apennines" and ... the mozzarella [on a pizza extra-margherita]
needs to be from buffalo milk" (Buzzle.com). By following these regulations, pizza-makers are allowed to
label their pizzas as 'guaranteed traditional specialties' and truly Neapolitan.
Even though some ingredients found in Neapolitan pizza are not truly native to Italy, it appears that the
Italian government is attempting to 'copyright' the pizzas. This move has sparked minor protests outside of
Italy, such as the one conducted by Domino Pizza franchisees in London, but appears to fall within
European Union guidelines. However, the author of the The Pizza Book, Evelyne Slomon, is skeptical that
the Italians can claim pizza in its entirety. ""What are they going to do? Go after every pizzeria in the
world?" Not only would that effort be futile, [but] for the Italians to claim [that] pizza ... was born of their hands is
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Uruguay Rice Exports and the Environment
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4. Author and Date: Todd Konieczka (July 6, 2004)
During the World Trade Organization's 1994 Uruguay Round, 147 participating governments agreed on a set of guidelines to
protect national intellectual property and geographic indicators (GIs - names indicative a specific geographic location).
This agreement, known as "TRIPS" (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights), has three important
articles specifically related to the protection of GIs. The website Campusprogram.com, an online university and employment
resource, aptly describes each of these three articles as such:
During the Doha Development Round in 2002, participating governments began negotiating for the creation of a
"multilateral register" of GIs. The European Union has proposed extending the TRIPS agreement to include a number of other
goods within this multilateral registry, including agricultural and food products. However the EU's proposal is
controversial, and would certainly benefit the EU and a few non-EU countries, while potentially harming producers in other
countries. Already, GI designations have increased demand for European wines; perhaps the EU hopes to capitalize on this
designation to increase its exports and reduce its farm subsidies.
The EU already protects a myriad of agricultural and food items
within its 25-nation union. Products such as parma ham and scotch lamb, are protected by a two-level labelling system,
"protection of designation of origin" (PDOs) and "protection of geographical indications" (PGIs). The former, the highest
level of protection, "covers the term used to describe foodstuffs that are produced, processed, and prepared in a given
geographical area using recognized know-how" (U.S.D.A. Economic Research Service). The latter, PGI protection, can only be
imposed if there is a least one stage of "production, processing, or preparation" that can be linked to a particular
geographical area. The EU hopes to extend this system internationally.
Though, "extending GI protection to generic names of food products other than wines and spirits is beyond current TRIPS
rules (Article 22 protection does not apply to generic names)" (U.S.D.A. Economic Research Service). Furthermore, it would
complicate international law. Some would argue that certain product names are generic (even common), while others would
argue that they're regionally specific. Europeans will even contest "derivations and Anglicized" product names that are
European in origin. If the EU's proposal is accepted by the WTO, it might "create gridlock and confusion in U.S.
supermarkets aisles and force American companies to spend hundreds of millions repackaging and rebranding
their products" (USA Today - Names).
Will this be the fate of pizza? Will geographic indicators stretch the limits of one's imagination? Caught up in
international law and renamed to meet multilateral obligations. Most commentators do not think so. As mentioned earlier,
pizza has its origins in no one particular country. Italy may have perfected the pizza, but it has not inherited its title.
Italy may win a legal battle for EU PDO recogniztion of Neapolitan pizza, but this seems unlikely on the world stage.
Pizzas are found everywhere and are made in a variety of ways, quite different from Italian bakers. As one MSNBC reporter
stated, "the definition of pizza has been stretched far more than the dough could ever be" (MSNBC).
"The biggest food forgers, according to the EU, are in Argentina, Chile, Canada, Australia and the USA." (USA Today - Names)>
5. Discourse and Status: Disagreement and In Progress
6. Forum and Scope: EU and Multilateral
7. Decision Breadth: Throughout the 25 members of the European Union
8. Legal Standing: Treaty
9. Geographic Locations
a. Geographic Domain: Europe
b. Geographic Site: Western Europe
c. Geographic Impact: Italy
10. Sub-National Factors: No
11. Type of Habitat: Temperate
A number of newspaper articles have suggested that Italy's attempt
to standardize Neapolitan pizzas is nothing more than a "strategy to increase the country's food exports"
(PizzaMarketPlace.com). Indeed, Italy trades internationally a number of agriculture products associated with pizzas
cultivated in the country's southern regions - namely tomatoes and cheeses (especially buffalo mozzarella). The country
has only recently been introduced to the idea of frozen, microwavable pizzas, and is slowly warming up to the concept.
Thus, the country has not been a leading exporter of frozen pizzas.
Information on overall Italian cheese exports, nevermind buffalo mozzarella cheese, is quite limited. Though here are
some interesting facts:
Unlike cheese exports, information concerning Italian tomato exports is slightly more prolific. Yet, regional tomato
production statistics are difficult to come by.
12. Type of Measure: Geographic Indication
13. Direct v. Indirect Impacts: Direct
14. Relation of Trade Measure to Environmental Impact
a. Directly Related to Product: Yes, Cheese
b. Indirectly Related to Product: No
c. Not Related to Product: No
d. Related to Process: Yes, Culture
15. Trade Product Identification: Pizza
16. Economic Data
17. Impact of Trade Restriction: Medium
18. Industry Sector: Food
19. Exporters and Importers: Italy and Many
20. Environmental Problem Type:
The environmental concerns of this case study
are notably cultural in nature. Since the late 1800s, pizzas have been cooked in a variety of ways, using many different
ingredients. The pizza "craze" soon spread beyond Italy's borders to other European countries. Just as french fries
became a craze with U.S. soldiers following World War I; after World War II, American GIs returned home from the Italian
war front with a penchant for the Italian dish. By the late 1950s, pizzerias became a common site in the Western world.
While pizzas are made throughout the world, they are universally regarded as Italian cuisine and the city of Naples is
commonly referred to as the birthplace of the dish. The city, which lends its name to Neapolitan pizzas, is located in a
relatively poor region of Italy known as Campania. However, the new pizza regulations set forth by the central government
may soon boost the local economies of this and other southern regions. As noted earlier, for a pizza to be 'truly
Neapolitan,' it must use ingredients that come from Italy. Basil and mozzarella cheese must come from the
southern Apennine mountains of Italy. And on an extra-Margherita Neapolitan pizza, the basil and buffalo mozzarella must
specifically come from the Campania region.
Buffalo mozzarella is primarily derived from water buffalo milk. Even
though the animals are not native to southern Italy, they have easily adapted to its rough, hot, and fairly dry environment.
Water buffalo can vary in size throughout the world, dependent on whether animal feed is scarce. Thus, they can be as
small as "350kg, high in the Himalyans, to 800kg in Bulgaria and Italy" (BuffaloMilk.co.uk). Despite these numbers, the
buffalo are able to survive on usually very little feed and small grazing areas. They even give off less ammonia-nitrogen
than traditional cattle, though this does not mean that the animals give off no pollution off at all. It is up to
government regulators and farm owners to curtail noxious emissions and waste, as well as the buffalos' tendency to destroy
hegdes and gates. For the most part, the animals are disease-resistant and have a relatively modest life span (around 20
years). And according to BuffaloMilk.co.uk's website, there are over 150 million water buffalo worldwide (thus they are
Another environmental factor that should be addressed in this case study is the fact that the new government regulations
stipulate that Neapolitan pizzas must be only cooked using wood-fired ovens. This will significantly increase CO2
emissions in Italy and elsewhere. Though this may arguably be countered by vegetation and trees, which rely on CO2. Wood
ovens tend to utilize wood efficiently, and are less polluting than some industrial ovens, but their use still promotes
greater wood consumption. Europe's forests have dwindled in size since prehistoric times, it would be unfortunate for
them to increase logging to accommodate a regional delicacy.
The impact that these new rules will have on the local Italian environment and economy has yet to be seen. It has been
estimated by the Italian news agency ANSA that there are a total of "23,000 pizza restaurants in Italy -- which make 56
million pizzas each week -- about 200 would seek the [government's Neapolitan] certification immediately" (CNN). Yet, not
all are happy with these new rules. As referred to earlier, one young Domino's franchisee in London was irate at the news.
""It made me feel angry they'd try to do such a thing," said [Antony] Tagliamonti.... He said he's heard rumors of
authentication squads moving throughout Europe, seeking non-compliant pizzerias" (Pizza Marketplace). It response to the
new regulations, Tagliamonti started a petition against the new pizza rules and organized a protest in front on the Italian
Embassy in London. In essence, he believes that his pizzas are not "an inferior product."
21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species
22. Resource Impact and Effect: Low and Structural
23. Urgency and Lifetime: Low and Hundreds of Years
24. Substitutes: Like Products
26. Trans-Boundary Issues:
28. Relevant Literature