New trademark gives Naples a pizza history
Traditional pizza makers in Europe celebrated this month after a protective mark for Naples' famed Neapolitan variety came into effect. An IP Right under European law, the Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) seal is one of three geographical marks that the European Commission (EC) can award to products, usually foodstuffs, with links to specific regions.

In each case where a European TSG is agreed, its specifications are enshrined in EC law. The Commission signalled its approval for the Neapolitan TSG in late 2009.

'Member States [have] backed a proposal to register Pizza Napoletana as a TSG under the European Union's quality labelling scheme,' announced the Commission. 'This means that producers who wish to use the EU's TSG label on their pizzas must follow the precise specifications set out in the regulation.' The Commission added that the seal covers 'a traditional agricultural product or foodstuff with at least 25 years [of] proven usage in the EU market' and certifies EU recognition 'for its specific character'.

The Commission pointed out that the TSG 'will not prevent other producers from using the name Pizza Napoletana, even if they do not follow the [approved] specifications'. However, it said, 'producers making pizza to a different recipe would … not be allowed to use the TSG label'. In other words, the seal's exclusivity does not apply to a specific brand, but to products that follow a specific formula.

As defined by the EC paperwork, the pizza's specifications are exacting to say the least. The base must be made from fresh yeast, hard wheat flour, sea salt and water, and must be stretched by hand, not rolled with a rolling pin. Tomato slices placed on the base must be no thicker than 8mm, and the mozzarella on top must be made from buffalo milk. Cow's milk alternatives are unacceptable. In the oven, meanwhile, the pizza must be cooked at approximately 500˚ centigrade for a regular, puffed crust.
Friday 19 February 2010

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