Last week, thousands of Italian farmers and farm activists gathered at Italy’s border with Austria to protest the importation of sub-quality foods falsely identified as from Italy.
The protest took place in the Alps near the Brenner Pass in response to the blue mozzarella scandal which rocked the region last month.
In June, officials confiscated over a ton of imported German mozzarella from Milchwerk Jager Gmgh & Co. after samples of the batch had been found to turn blue after being taken out of the packaging. Scientists later found that the cheese turned blue because of bacterial contamination.
Though the confiscated cheese caused quite the alarm, the health ministry in Rome reported that it has received no complaints of illness linked to the contaminated cheese. The German manufacturing company said that the cheese turned blue because of a harmless germ found in groundwater.
Farmers, activists, Italy’s farm minister, and the farm lobby–Coldiretti–have all stated that the cheese scandal has hurt Italy’s reputation as a quality food maker.
The most purchased cheese in Italy, Italians consume around 360 pounds of mozzarella per year according to Coldiretti. The cheese is versitile, used for pizza, caprese salads, paninis, and other staple Italian foods.
“We want to know what is coming and where it’s going,” Coldiretti released in a statement. “People who buy have the right to know if what they’re buying is really made in Italy.”
Also as a result of the contaminated cheese scandal, Italian Agriculture Minister Giancarlo Galan said he plans to encourage legislators to pass a regulation that would require milk producers to give more details about the provenance of their milk. The existing bill has passed the Italian upper Senate thus far and is still waiting on passage in the lower Chamber of Deputies.