A Guide to Italian Food and Wine Certifications

Acronyms like DOP, IGP, and DOC represent different legal certifications for the origin, production, and quality of Italian food and wine.

They were introduced in the mid-1900s: as Italy’s products gained in popularity, the market was flooded with low-quality food and wine 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.

THE SECRET TO QUALITY LIFE

The certifications promise the authenticity – and with that, the tastiness – of a product. We can discover the story of a product just by looking at the label: where it is made, by whom, and with what ingredients.

This translates to you, our customers! By creating and offering the best products, we improve our own lives and bring added value to yours. Enter a world dedicated to quality: that means quality food, quality drink, and ultimately quality time.

But we know that the abundance of acronyms may be overwhelming to navigate at first blush. Check out our guide to Italian certifications, then discover your favorite high-quality Italian products!

DOP: Denominazione d’Origine Protetta | Protected Designation of Origin

Created by the EU, DOP ensures that your favorite cheeses, fruits and vegetables, salumi (cured meats), balsamic vinegars, and olive oils are all grown, produced, and packaged within a designated zone and according to tradition. Every step, from production to packaging, is regulated.

This mark separates Parmigiano Reggiano from parmesan cheese, San Marzano from regular tomatoes, and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from the thin condiment you might drizzle over a salad.

IGP: Indicazione Geografica Protetta | Indication of Geographical Protection

Similar to DOP, this certification represents food and condiments. However, it is less strict, tracing food specialties solely back to their geographical location to at least one phase in production. IGP is a good reference, but it does not guarantee all phases, like DOP.

DOC and DOCG: Denominazione di Origine Controllata (E Garantita) | Controlled (and Guaranteed) Designation of Origin

Introduced in 1963, DOC pertains solely to wines produced in a specific geographic zone from an officially permitted grape varietal.

The DOCG category is reserved for the highest quality wines from Italy. In addition to the conditions required for DOC, the wines must be “guaranteed” by passing a blind tasting test, administered by officials from the government. Since 1992, there have been additional limitations on permitted yields and natural alcohol levels, ensuring that the wines that meet the criteria for this prestigious category are undoubtedly the best that Italy has to offer

IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica | Indication of Typical Geography

The IGT classification was introduced in 1992 to acknowledge the wines that do not fit into the DOC or DOCG categories but are of superior quality. In particular, the much-lauded “Super Tuscan” wines, made from nontraditional grapes, could not be considered for DOC; however, they deserved recognition. This has also provided an opportunity for winemakers to experiment with grape varieties that are perhaps not native to their region, and truly interesting wines have emerged.

Auguri! With your new knowledge of Italian food and wine, you are ready to eat and drink!

Buon appetito!

Source: Eataly

Long-term Heavy Drinking May Age Arteries Over Time

Heavy alcohol drinking habits over the years may prematurely age arteries, especially in men, putting them at an increased risk for heart disease, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Drinking too much, can affect the elasticity of the arterial walls (arterial stiffness) and prematurely age the arteries, interfering with blood flow.

Moreover, researchers found that male former drinkers were at risk for accelerated rates of arterial stiffness compared with moderate drinkers who were in early old age. This observation was not found in females, although the study of 3,869 participants was 73 percent male.

The findings, which looked at alcohol drinking habits over a 25-year period, support previous research on moderate alcohol consumption and its association with reduced risk for cardiovascular disease. The question is how much alcohol is too much and at what point does alcohol start to cause damage to the arteries?

Participants ranged in age at the initial alcohol assessment from their 30s to their 50s, with statistical adjustment made for age (amongst other characteristics) in the study’s analyses, and anyone with a history of heart disease were excluded from the study. Few of the participants were current smokers, however 68 percent of the men and 74 percent of women failed to meet recommended weekly exercise guidelines. Among both men and women, one in 10 had Type 2 diabetes. Men were more likely to be heavy drinkers compared with women; however, there were twice as many stable nondrinkers and former drinkers among the women than the men.

Researchers compared data about participants’ alcohol consumption with carotid-femoral pulse wave artery velocity (PWV) measurements, or pulse waves between the main arteries found in the neck and thigh. The greater the velocity, the stiffer the artery. Alcohol intake was measured periodically across 25 years and the researchers subsequently looked at how those long-term intake patterns were associated with pulse wave velocity and its progression over a 4-to-5-year interval.

Consistent long-term, heavy drinking was defined in this U.K. study as more than 112 grams (3.9 ounces) of ethanol per week (roughly equivalent to one serving of alcoholic spirit, half a pint of beer, or half a glass of wine.); consistent moderate drinking was 1-112 grams of ethanol per week.

The American Heart Association defines moderate alcohol consumption as an average of one to two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. A drink is 12 ounces of beer, four ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk for alcohol dependency, cardiovascular risk factors including high blood pressure and obesity, stroke, certain types of cancer, suicide and accidents.

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, contributing to nearly one-third of deaths, researchers said.

How alcohol may impact arterial health is unclear, said Darragh O’Neill, Ph.D., lead study author and epidemiological researcher at University College London. “It’s been suggested alcohol intake may increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels — the good cholesterol — or decrease platelet stickiness. Conversely, heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening.”

“Based on these findings, the research team wants to look at multiple groups of people — since this study was limited to a single group that was mostly male — and identify the relationship that drinking patterns over time have with other indicators of cardiovascular disease.” O’Neill said

Source: American Heart Association


Today’s Comic

Video: The Future of Coffee – Robot Baristas

Automation is eliminating jobs for factory workers and Uber drivers. Will your morning fix soon come from a precision caffeine machine? WSJ’s Geoffrey A. Fowler tastes the new robot lattes at San Francisco’s Cafe X.

Watch video at You Tube (2:20 minutes) . . . . .

Coca-Cola Sued for Misleading and Deceptive Advertising of Sugar-sweetened Drinks

The Praxis Project, in collaboration with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, filed a lawsuit demanding that the Coca-Cola Company and American Beverage Association stop their misleading and deceptive advertising practices around the consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks. It is our communities of color that are bearing the brunt of the profit-seeking marketing that is pushed by Coca Cola and the ABA.

Sugary drinks are the number one source of added sugar in the American diet, and are linked to increased risk of diabetes, heart and liver disease, obesity, and tooth decay. Diabetes cases in California jumped 50% between 2001 and 2012. Current trends predict that half of Latino and African American children will develop Type 2 Diabetes in their lifetimes. Additionally, obesity rates continue to skyrocket in our communities, with 9% of individuals considered obese in 1984 and over 25% today. This rate is expected to increase to 47% by 2030.

The Coca-Cola Company, with the help of the American Beverage Association, has long deceived consumers about the health impact of consuming Coke and other sugar-sweetened beverages. The complaint, filed in federal court in California, contends that the beverage giant and its trade association mislead and confuse the public about the science linking consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Deceptive advertising disproportionately harms our communities—Latino, African American, American Indian, and Asian Pacific Islanders– day in and day out, especially those communities facing a variety of other social and environmental setbacks. Advertising campaigns that emphasize energy balance are particularly devious, given that we know children rarely burn all of the extra calories through activity. Even if a child drinks one sugary beverage per day, that can result in almost 16 pounds of weight gain per year. For those kids drinking more than one soda per day, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to burn off the excess calories.

“We are tired of trying to counter the deep pocket advertising that misleads our communities regarding the dangers of regularly consuming sugary drinks” said Praxis Project Executive Director, Xavier Morales. “The price our community pays through decreased health, increased diabetes, and amputations is too high. Coca-Cola and the American Beverage Industry need to stop their predatory marketing and they also need to stop misleading our communities through their false health claims and continued masking of the insidious health effects of consuming sugared water.”

The lawsuit was filed today in United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Praxis Project, the plaintiff, is a nonprofit dedicated to building healthy communities by supporting policy advocacy and local organizing for community change. Praxis is represented in court by Maia C. Kats, litigation director of nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest; Andrew Rainer of the Public Health Advocacy Institute; and Michael R. Reese of the law firm Reese LLP.

The suit seeks declarative and injunctive relief that would, among other things, stop Coke and the ABA from engaging in the unfair and deceptive marketing of sugary drinks.

Source: Praxis Project

How Does Alcohol Get You Drunk?

This video explains the chemistry behind the effects of alcohol – drunkenness, frequent bathroom breaks and occasionally poor decision-making. Find out how it all comes down to ethanol (which, like all things, should be enjoyed in moderation).

Watch video at You Tube (3:26 minutes) . . . .