DOP, IGP, DOC — these letters are often found on the label of your favourite Italian food and drink, but what are they? Read on, amici.
WHAT DO THEY MEAN?
Acronyms like IGP and DOP show that the product — be it pecorino or prosciutto — is legally guaranteed by the European Union to be “authentic,” or made in the original town or region with real ingredients. (In other words: Parmigiano Reggiano DOP promises that there are no wood chips in “Parmesan cheese” allowed.) For example:
Indicazione Geografica Protetta (Indication of Geographic Protection)
The IGP label shows that the quality or reputation of your food or condiment is linked to the place or region where it is produced, processed, or prepared.
Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin
The DOP label guarantees that your favourite cheese, prosciutto, olive oil, etc., is produced, processed and packaged in a specific geographical zone and according to tradition. Each step, from production to packaging, is regulated.
WHY DO THEY MATTER?
It’s simple: beyond saving ancient traditions, the product actually tastes better.
It’s true. There is a reason why Prosciutto Toscano DOP is made with pigs raised in the hills of a set zone and grazed on local grasses, then cured at precise temperatures with a secret recipe of local herbs: the prosciutto tastes delicious. It tasted delicious centuries ago, when the methods were defined and perfected, it tastes delicious today, and it is guaranteed to taste delicious in centuries to come.
WHEN DID THIS START?
The need for guaranteed authentic products began in the mid-1900s, when Italy’s food and wine producers found themselves in trouble. As “Italian cuisine” gained popularity in the U.S. and abroad, the market was flooded with low-quality, knock-off olive oil, cheese, prosciutto, and wine, all sold under the guise of the high-quality products they mimicked.
To protect its culinary reputation, Italy worked with the European Union to create legal certifications that encourage food and wine producers to focus on quality, tradition, and reliability. To earn the labels, producers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines, overseen by the government.
SO…HOW DO I FIND THEM?
At Eataly, this is great news for us — and you. We make sure that every single one of our products is good, clean, and fair, but these certifications let us know immediately that the product is trustworthy. We can discover its story with three simple letters: where it is made, by whom, and with what ingredients.
This translates to you, our customers! When you bring home products with IGP and DOP labels, you know you are supporting and enjoying quality: that means quality food, quality drink, and ultimately quality time.
So, the next time that you’re shopping at Eataly, be on the lookout for these special IGP and DOP labels across our market!