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Mafia-glorifying food must stop, say Italian farmers

Coldiretti warns Mob-named products a 'slap in face of Italy'

19 March, 19:48
Mafia-glorifying food must stop, say Italian farmers (By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Rome, March 19 - Celebrating the mafia through food brands named for mafiosi, such as Al Capone pasta or Don Corleone liqueurs, is in very bad taste and must stop, Italian farm organization Coldiretti said Wednesday.

Such products also make Italy look bad on the global stage, the group added as it presented a report that included a section on mafia association with food products, brands and recipes. Roberto Moncalvo of Coldiretti called for authorities at the European Union and at the national level to intervene and "end an unbearable outrage, a real slap in the face of Italy on global markets".

The report drew attention to products named for mob figures ranging from American gangsters Capone and Lucky Luciano to Don Vito Corleone of the Hollywood blockbuster film series The Godfather.

Even such names as Cosa Nostra are used in cookbook titles and atop restaurants all over the world, usually related to Italian food and blackening the country's reputation, said Coldiretti.

Adding to the insult are such such brand names as the kind of sweets that have been named Mafiacandy; flavoured peanuts sold as Chilli Mafia ("spicy: use with caution", reads the package); while cooking advice is doled out at a website called mamamafiosa.com.

It also signaled out a coffee bar in Bulgaria named Caffe Mafiozzo which advertised offerings in "real Italian style".

Such products have been found in countries from Taiwan to the United States to Britian, the Netherlands and Spain, said Coldiretti.

They seem to celebrate a painful phenomenon that should not be treated so lightly, the organization said.

"Our research has led to the discovery of a world market that does business on the names of one of the most horrible and painful plagues of our country," said Moncalvo. The goal of Coldiretti's campaign, he added, "is to stop unacceptable behaviours that harm (Italy's) business image abroad, and most profoundly affect the many Italians who have been or are unfortunately a victim of organized crime". The concerns echo complaints raised last year when a Sicilian politician and anti-mafia campaigner complained that foreign restaurants should not glorify the mafia by naming dishes and pizzas after crime families.

Such moves signal "yet another misrepresentation of Sicily," Fabrizio Ferrandelli, who is also regional vice-president of the Democratic Party (PD), wrote on his blog after a visit to Copenhagen.

There, he said, he and his family dined at a restaurant "exploiting the worst stereotypes" of southern Italy and criminals, he wrote.

That included pizzas named after the mafia figures and Al Capone.

"I'm really angry...for the many who fought and (continue to) fight the Mafia," Ferrandelli wrote later.

Meanwhile, the Coldiretti report on crime and the mafia in food production also warned that organized criminal gangs are becoming more deeply entrenched in agriculture.

Dubbing the phenomena "agromafia", Coldiretti warned that anti-mafia police are increasing discovering Italian food industry businesses that are fronts for organized crime - including cafes, restaurants, pizzerias and bars as well as agriculture operations.

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