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Mafia-themed pasta sauce and coffee 'an insult' to Italy

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Non-Italian products carrying mafia names are damaging Italian business and marring its international reputation. Photo: Coldiretti.
10:52 CET+01:00
How about a cup of 'Mafiozzo', a branded coffee sold in Bulgaria, or some of Belgium's finest 'Saucemaffioso' on your pasta?

These are just two examples of how mafia association is increasingly used around the world to market 'Italian' products, something experts say is damaging Italian business as well as the country's international reputation.

“These products are a double insult to Italy,” Sara Paraluppi from the Italian farmers' association, Coldiretti, told The Local.

“Global producers are marketing foreign products as Italian by linking them to the worst Italy has to offer: organized crime.”

To highlight the growing problem, Coldiretti exhibited some of the most scandalous examples in Catania on Thursday.

Items included a spice mix in Germany called 'Palermo Mafia Shooting'  - sold in a jar labelled with a 9mm pistol -  and a non-Italian limoncello called 'Don Corleone' after the fictional mafia boss.

“It's almost exclusively foreign producers doing this. Italians work hard to promote their territories and show there is more to Italy than organized crime and rubbish," Paraluppi added.

But the problem isn't exclusive to product names: companies are increasingly naming themselves after organized crime networks and bosses too.

The online portal www.candymafia.com sells sweets at wholesale prices, while a quick Google search for 'Cosa Nostra Pizzeria' turns up pages of restaurants and takeaways around the globe.

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Apart from damaging Italy's global reputation with insensitive naming that ignores the pain and misery organized crime has brought to millions of Italians, 'brand mafia' is also duping consumers into thinking they are buying an authentic Italian product.

“Mafia labelling is part of the problem of 'Italian sounding' items: things which can seem Italian to consumers but have nothing to do with our country," explained Paraluppi.

In total, such products are thought to cost the Italian an economy an estimated €60 billion, but the value of 'brand mafia' is currently unknown.

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