Fake "Parmesan" Seized at Anuga in Cologne

Prompt action by the Consortium: the Court of Cologne, Germany, makes a decision in a few hours

Reggio Emilia, 12 October 2011 - Another powerful stroke by the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium to companies that have counterfeited the “king of cheeses”. Indeed, the protection body obtained the immediate seizure of “parmesan” manufactured by two companies based in the USA and proposed – ironically – during one of the most important and prestigious international food exhibitions: Anuga in Cologne.  The same measure was taken to protect Asiago cheese since one of these two companies had presented a cheese illegally bearing the same designation of the cheese made in the Vicenza production area. The seizure took place following the Consortium’s report filed after its staff present at the exhibition had noticed these counterfeited products bearing the name "parmesan", which is the designation used within the European Union market to identify exclusively PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano. The same applies to any other expression evoking the authentic designation, as proven by the seizure of cheese from South America called "parmesano" and "reggianito" during the 2009 Anuga edition.

“It is not the first time – underlines the Consortium’s Director, Leo Bertozzithat a seizure paradoxically takes place within such a prestigious context for agri-food excellences, where someone is shameless enough to think that on these occasions controls are less strict than on the market: on the contrary, the immediate response was a request for seizure, which caused – given the context – so much sensation as to discourage anyone perpetrating frauds or counterfeits that have already been the cause of severe sentences for several companies”. “This measure – continues Bertozzi – confirms once again that the Consortium is alert and effective, and the protection system adopted by the European Union works; but at the same time, it should urge business operators to promptly report  to the protection body any forms of counterfeiting found on the market”.

Parmesan sequestrato all'Anuga di Colonia

The cheese seized in Cologne – explains Bertozziexploited names that were evidently forbidden, since the designation Parmigiano-Reggiano “shall not be the object of imitations or evocations that may be misleading for the consumer”. “Thanks to the prompt action of our legal offices in Italy and Germany – continues Bertozzi – the Court of Cologne decided in just a few hours to seize the product exhibited to the German and international retail world:  the potential “traffic” was thus stopped immediately, as on other occasions, thanks to the supervision performed by the Consortium not only at Exhibitions, but especially within European retailers, i.e. in a geographical area where – following the 2008 decision of the Court of Justice – a real protection of PDOs can be implemented with actions that turn into specific judicial measures against manufacturers of imitation cheeses”.

“If the reform drawn up by the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament is approved – underlines the Consortium’s Directorwe will have an extraordinary additional weapon at our disposal, i.e. the “ex officio” protection that imposes each member country to protect the PDO products from other EU countries within their territories”. “The seizure in Cologne - concludes the Parmigiano-Reggiano Consortium’s Director – is also evidence of the effective collaboration between the Consortium, authorities and institutions (the first being the Italian Ministry for Agricultural and Forestry Policies, Mipaaf, and the European Commission) to protect products of excellence”.