The largest farmers’ organization in Italy is fighting the “scandalous” use of mafia terms to market a range of food and beverage items around the globe, including Cosa Nostra whiskey and Chilli Mafia tomato sauce.
After conducting a thorough investigation, Coldiretti found that nearly 300 restaurants outside of Italy have names inspired by the mafia, including El Padrino in Spain, Don Corleone in Finland, Burger Mafia in Germany, Falafel Mafia in the US, and Nasi Goreng Mafia in Indonesia.
The most shocking find, according to Coldiretti branch manager Alessandro Apolito, was a bottle of Cosa Nostra Shot whisky in the shape of a machine gun that was made in Scotland.
“It’s scandalous to think that somebody could buy something of this kind, even if it’s only for a joke,” said Apolito. “For us, joking about such serious things like the mafia is unacceptable.”
He claimed that the mafia-themed advertising did great harm to Italy’s reputation and genuine produce in addition to being extremely offensive to the innocent Italians who have perished or suffered at the hands of the nation’s notorious criminal organizations.
In December, Coldiretti held an exhibition of some of the food and drink items gathered from all over the world in Palermo, Sicily, the city where the Cosa Nostra mafia organization was founded. These items included the UK-made Chilli Mafia sauce, Mafia Coffee, and Il Padrino wine.
“Continuing to associate Italy with these mafia stereotypes and criminality is hugely damaging to the country’s image,” he said. “But the most significant issue is that it is an offence to the victims of the mafia as hundreds of innocent people have been killed by the mafia or suffer from its criminality. In Palermo, especially, there was a strong sense of indignation over this absurd marketing. There are millions of Sicilians who are honest and respect the laws but who are victims of this criminal plague.”
Additionally, Coldiretti discovered that many of the items on the shelves of supermarkets, local stores, and websites selling products were out-of-date.
“Very often they use an Italian flag on an out-of-date product,” said Apolito. “Not only do these products take away space on shelves from genuine Italian products, but it’s a huge economic cost to our food industry.”
Spain was found to have the most mafia-themed eateries and bars (63) worldwide, followed by Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, India, Japan, Poland, and the United States.
Although there are EU agreements in place to protect products under DOP (protected designation of origin) rules, there are no measures to stop marketing gimmicks like mafia-themed restaurants or food. For instance, copies of such produce can be removed from supermarket shelves.
“Using and evoking the name of organised crime for marketing purposes cannot be accepted,” said Ettore Prandini, the president of Coldiretti. “There is economic damage to our agri-food sector, but also damage to the victims of the underworld. We need to reach an agreement at the European level to ensure that this can no longer happen.”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)