Puglia wins in mozzarella war against Campania

ROME – The Lazio Administrative Court has rejected the appeal by the Campania regional government to deny the use of the prestigious ‘DOP’ symbol on speciality buffalo mozzarella from Puglia, which is in fact made from cow’s milk, authorities said on Thursday.

 In the mozzarella war between Italian regions Campania and Puglia the administrative court in Lazio has drawn a truce that sounds more like a victory for the latter. In this way, the quarrel that clouded the summer of 2017 has been more or less resolved. Farmers rebelled against allowing the ‘DOP’ label, a certification which ensures that products are locally grown and packaged, on the mozzarella of Gioia del Colle. The proposal by the agricultural minister in the Gazetta Ufficiale on August 28, 2017 triggered a great controversy. The drama moved from the agricultural to the political, as the governor of Vincenzo De Luca area in Campania and president Michele Emiliano of the region in Puglia took their opposing positions.

 According to judges, there is no confusion amongst consumers because the mozzarella from Campana is made with buffalo milk, whilst the variety from Puglia is made with cow milk. The same conclusion was reached a month ago by ex-governor Gentiloni.  

 According to the minister of agricultural policies, the brand ‘Mozzarella di Gioia del Colle’ has not been wrongly labelled. It was Domenico Raimondo, president of the support group of the Campana DOP buffalo mozzarella, who at the end of last year appealed to the administrative court to remove the prestigious DOP label from mozzarella produced with cow’s milk.

 “The Lazio Administrative Court has set mozzarella back on the right path,” declared president of Confagricoltura Bari/ BAT Michele Lacenere, responding to the controversy in using the word ‘mozzarella’ for the Puglian product. “Campana has their specific buffalo DOP; ours made of milk has an equally excellent and antique heritage.” According to the president, Confagricoltura has “many times underlined that the term mozzarella refers to a manner of working milk that cannot only be assigned to the buffalo product.” Puglia in fact prides itself on a centuries-old tradition of farming and working with fresh cow’s milk.

 During mozzarella production at Gioia del Colle, they use cow’s milk which been pasturised for at least 150 days per year while cows’ diets are based on at least 60 percent grass and local hay.

 “Cow milk can be distinguished from buffalo milk,” Lacenere explained, “thanks to the different sequence of cow genes.” Cow’s milk has less fat compared with buffalo and contains 87 percent water. Moreover, mozzarella made from cow’s milk contains around 255 calories for every 100 grams. The rules that regulate production at DOP Gioia del Colle are very strict, and demand the following qualities; on top of the obligatory 150-day pasturisation and 60 percent local diet, natural whey should be used in production which avoids fermented milk and citric acid. Moreover, milk processing should be carried out within 36 hours of milking itself. “I hope that the two regions of DOP quality,” Lacenere added, “become a benchmark for the rich agricultural produce that Puglia and Campania bring to food enthusiasts across the whole world.”

 cb