Author Topic: San Marzano Scam???  (Read 8970 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline David Deas

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 346
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2012, 11:07:40 PM »
I spoke with a friend today who is an accomplished chef in his own right.  He recently addressed this question directly to a Michelin Starred chef who agreed without batting an eye:  95 percent or more of the tomatoes that Italy exports labeled San Marzano and bearing the DOP stamp, even when properly numbered, are in fact counterfeit and do not meet standards to be labeled as such.  Here is one article supporting that claim.  I RESERVE JUDGMENT WITHOUT FURTHER INFORMATION AND UNTIL I HEAR WHAT SOME OF THE EXPERTS HERE HAVE TO SAY.  The claim seems extraordinary on one hand and, given the mixed reaction and results to expensive San Marzanos by people here, believable on the other.  Does anyone have any insight?

http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder/2011/12/are_95_of_americas_san_marzano.php

Not an extraordinary claim.  Food fraud is pretty rampant.  The general population seems to be unaware, or apathetic, which allows it to continue.  Red Snapper was the last one I cared about.  All the stuff going on with caviar, honey, fruit juice, milk, oils, etc, is not so interesting to me.  San Marzanos in particular is already a subject surrounded in a lot of confusion so you can expect there to be lots of room for fraud with that.


Offline ItalianChef21

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2013, 02:45:58 PM »
So it's been over a year and the Cento "certified" San Marzano Tomatoes are still in existence. Funny, since they claim they had labeling issues. I took it upon myself to do some further research. I contacted BioAgriCert - the company in Italy who Cento has on their website as certifying their tomatoes. And it turns out, they are certified - But NOT San Marzano tomatoes. They are Certified Italian Tomatoes that are grown in Italy and can be traced to the supplier. That's all it means. They are not DOP. They are just regular Italian tomatoes that they have a certification for "certifying" they are Italian. Big deal. This has got to be one of the best play on words pulled on a consumer.

Don't believe me? Contact AgriCert and ask them for a copy of the certification and ask them how they say San Marzano. Here's the broken English response I got:

Good morning

I have to under mark in the meanwhile we just certify the ‘production chain traceability’ of the producer in Italy, this is the meaning of the ‘22005’ (rif. to UNI EN ISO 22005 Standard) indication you can see under our logo.
 
Best regards
 
Simonetta Papi

Ufficio Qualità - Quality Office

 

E-mail: simonetta.papi@bioagricert.org

Reclami&segnalazioni - Alerts&complaints: qualita@bioagricert.org

BIOAGRICERT: www.bioagricert.org - Tel. +39 051 562158 - Fax. +39 051 564294

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 13235
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2013, 02:59:34 PM »
So it's been over a year and the Cento "certified" San Marzano Tomatoes are still in existence. Funny, since they claim they had labeling issues. I took it upon myself to do some further research. I contacted BioAgriCert - the company in Italy who Cento has on their website as certifying their tomatoes. And it turns out, they are certified - But NOT San Marzano tomatoes. They are Certified Italian Tomatoes that are grown in Italy and can be traced to the supplier. That's all it means. They are not DOP. They are just regular Italian tomatoes that they have a certification for "certifying" they are Italian. Big deal. This has got to be one of the best play on words pulled on a consumer.

Still in existence? Did you think they were going somewhere? You might have been better off researching US label requirements as opposed to what Cento is doing specifically. Cento has never claimed those tomatoes are DOP, so I'm sot sure what has you all twisted up. You didn't need to contact anyone to figure that out.  What is your beef with Cento? Are you paid to write posts like this? It sure smells that way.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Chicago Bob

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 11391
  • Location: Durham,NC
  • Easy peazzy
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2013, 03:21:56 PM »
So it's been over a year and the Cento "certified" San Marzano Tomatoes are still in existence. Funny, since they claim they had labeling issues. I took it upon myself to do some further research. I contacted BioAgriCert - the company in Italy who Cento has on their website as certifying their tomatoes. And it turns out, they are certified - But NOT San Marzano tomatoes. They are Certified Italian Tomatoes that are grown in Italy and can be traced to the supplier. That's all it means. They are not DOP. They are just regular Italian tomatoes that they have a certification for "certifying" they are Italian. Big deal. This has got to be one of the best play on words pulled on a consumer.

Don't believe me? Contact AgriCert and ask them for a copy of the certification and ask them how they say San Marzano. Here's the broken English response I got:

Good morning

I have to under mark in the meanwhile we just certify the ‘production chain traceability’ of the producer in Italy, this is the meaning of the ‘22005’ (rif. to UNI EN ISO 22005 Standard) indication you can see under our logo.
 
Best regards
 
Simonetta Papi

Ufficio Qualità - Quality Office

 

E-mail: simonetta.papi@bioagricert.org

Reclami&segnalazioni - Alerts&complaints: qualita@bioagricert.org

BIOAGRICERT: www.bioagricert.org - Tel. +39 051 562158 - Fax. +39 051 564294
Oh man...an I jus bought a whole case of these on Amazon.  >:(
What should I do... >:D
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline ItalianChef21

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2013, 04:06:15 PM »
You're paying DOP price for non DOP product. Do the math.

Plus, they claimed the DOP regulations changed and they were forced to get theirs certified by a third party agency due to label issues for that year's crop. It's been a few years now and they still have label issues? Now the new "certified" label say there may be a secondary label underneath? Plus, the label dimensions can be seen through the paper showing fractions - not metric - measurements. When did Italy switch to standard measurements?

 
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 04:09:06 PM by ItalianChef21 »

Offline Chicago Bob

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 11391
  • Location: Durham,NC
  • Easy peazzy
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2013, 04:16:31 PM »
I've had "DOP" product that was a big bummer man....what gives with all this "labeling" stuff anyway, how many bogus providers are there out there...  ???
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 13235
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2013, 04:46:12 PM »
You're paying DOP price for non DOP product. Do the math.

Plus, they claimed the DOP regulations changed and they were forced to get theirs certified by a third party agency due to label issues for that year's crop. It's been a few years now and they still have label issues? Now the new "certified" label say there may be a secondary label underneath? Plus, the label dimensions can be seen through the paper showing fractions - not metric - measurements. When did Italy switch to standard measurements?

Actually, I buy the Cento Italian. $2.18 for a 35oz can, and they are better than the vast majority of DOP tomatoes I've tried. Do the math on that.

Personally, I'm offended by companies charging DOP prices for real DOP tomatoes that aren't as good as other non-DOP tomatoes, and there are plenty of them that fall into this group. From my perspective, DOP is effectively a scam to [often] charge more than a tomato is really worth.

Like most folks here, I'm perfectly capable of reading a label and determining if the product is truly D.O.P. or a marketing ploy. So long as they are not telling me it is DOP when it isn't (and they are not), I have no problem with them. IMO, your righteous indignation is misplaced.



Pizza is not bread.

Offline Jet_deck

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 3044
  • Location: Between Houston and Mexico
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2013, 05:09:42 PM »
So it's been over a year and the Cento "certified" San Marzano Tomatoes are still in existence....

If it were a problem, wouldn't have all the emailing you did last year, to all those very important people, made them change if it were needed?

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13517.msg134428.html#msg134428
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends

Offline ItalianChef21

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2013, 10:19:10 AM »
I'm not doubting the quality of the tomatoes. I'm questioning the price. 35 oz is cheaper than 28 oz certified? Why pay more for less when it's the same product in the can? My math is fine. The label is taking advantage of people who think are DOP. DOP San Marzano are suppose to be genetically San Marzano tomatoes. Not Roma tomatoes that may have been cross bred with real SM tomatoes. Real SM tomatoes are soft and broken in the can because genetically they're weaker. That's why they're rare and cost more. Plus, they taste sweeter.

It's taking advantage of the consumer. Just like Capatriti olive oil. They're getting sued by the National Olive Oil Association for "mislabeling". Basically, they were putting any type of edible oil in their cans and bottles and labeling it olive oil. It wasn't. Don't think these big companies are all sincere to their word. Looking at the banks giving out bonuses after getting bailout money. Different industry, still scammers.

Offline Chicago Bob

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 11391
  • Location: Durham,NC
  • Easy peazzy
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2013, 10:26:51 AM »
I'm not doubting the quality of the tomatoes. I'm questioning the price. 35 oz is cheaper than 28 oz certified? Why pay more for less when it's the same product in the can? My math is fine. The label is taking advantage of people who think are DOP. DOP San Marzano are suppose to be genetically San Marzano tomatoes. Not Roma tomatoes that may have been cross bred with real SM tomatoes. Real SM tomatoes are soft and broken in the can because genetically they're weaker. That's why they're rare and cost more. Plus, they taste sweeter.


I have both of these in my kitchen. I can tell a definite difference/taste between the 2.

Bob
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"


Offline ItalianChef21

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 6
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #30 on: April 06, 2013, 10:37:46 AM »
Same year/crop production?

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 13235
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #31 on: April 06, 2013, 01:39:41 PM »
I'm not doubting the quality of the tomatoes. I'm questioning the price. 35 oz is cheaper than 28 oz certified? Why pay more for less when it's the same product in the can? My math is fine.

Your math may be fine, but your facts aren't. It’s not necessarily the same. They only claim that Cento makes with the “Italian” product (35oz can) is that it is a “Product of Italy.” To the best of my knowledge, their “certified” product is only claimed to be certified San Marzano tomatoes. Nothing more. The “Italian” product may or may not be San Marzano tomato. They don’t say either way.

Perhaps some education is in order. San Marzano is a variety of plum tomato. It can be grown from the volcanic soils of Mt. Vesuvius to the clay soil of my yard here on the coastal plains of Texas. The quality may vary by growing area, but the variety does not. If you start with San Marzano seed, you get San Marzano tomatoes. It doesn’t matter where you grow them; it’s still a San Marzano tomato. D.O.P. certification imposes additional requirements beyond the variety grown – such as the growing region.

Contrast San Marzano tomatoes to Bordeaux wine or Vidalia onions. They are very different. Bordeaux is not a grape variety and Vidalia is not an onion variety. They are the names of the growing region, and in either case, more than one variety can be used. To have the name Bordeaux or Vidalia, the grapes or onions must be grown in the officially defined regions. This is not the case with San Marzano Tomatoes; the growing region only matters is when it comes to D.O.P. certification.

Quote
The label is taking advantage of people who think are DOP. DOP San Marzano are suppose to be genetically San Marzano tomatoes. Not Roma tomatoes that may have been cross bred with real SM tomatoes. Real SM tomatoes are soft and broken in the can because genetically they're weaker. That's why they're rare and cost more. Plus, they taste sweeter.

Yes, and this is what Cento has paid to have certified – that they are in fact San Marzano variety tomatoes, and this is all that they are claiming on their labels. You are confusing elements that are not necessarily related. While D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes must be genetically San Marzano tomatoes as you write, D.O.P. signifies more than simply the variety – such as the precise growing region, how they are to be grown, and the size, shape, and color when (hand) harvested. Cento isn’t making a claim on any of this with their “Certified” product. There is no reason why they can’t market genetically pure San Marzano tomatoes that don’t meet the other D.O.P. requirements and call them “certified" San Marzano but not calling them D.O.P.

As for being sweeter, that far from being a given.

Quote
It's taking advantage of the consumer. Just like Capatriti olive oil. They're getting sued by the National Olive Oil Association for "mislabeling". Basically, they were putting any type of edible oil in their cans and bottles and labeling it olive oil. It wasn't. Don't think these big companies are all sincere to their word. Looking at the banks giving out bonuses after getting bailout money. Different industry, still scammers.

No. It’s not, and your olive oil example couldn’t possibly be more apples and oranges. What Cento is doing is not dishonest and illegal as in the case of the olive oil you described. You might think it is misleading, but it is perfectly accurate and legal. At some point, the consumer has to be responsible for educating himself. There are plenty of label requirements to protect against outright fraud as you described in your olive oil example. How many people in the US have ever heard of a D.O.P. San Marzano tomato? Not very many. And, of those that have, how many don’t know to look for D.O.P. on the label? When you get down to it, there is nobody to fool. How do you take advantage of the customer when there are no customers you can take advantage of???

If you’re really worried about companies taking advantage of the customer, why don’t you go after the those selling true D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes that they know are inferior under the D.O.P. label just so that they can charge more money for them? Now that is intentionally misleading and taking advantage of the customer. As far as I’m concerned, they are the scammers. You should be applauding Cento for offering high quality alternatives at better prices. The “Certified” are about $1 less expensive than the D.O.P. items I have available to me, and the value of the “Italian” 35oz product simply can’t be beat.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2630
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2013, 01:42:54 PM »
I did not want to chime in on this, but there is a lot if misinformation here. Not in what constitutes DOP, but what Cento Certified is - and that is a can of tomatoes that are just as good, if not better than most DOP out there. They are certainly SM, tender, slightly sweet and incredible on NP pizza. I have been using Cento DOP and Certified for years, and have sampled nearly every other DOP for sale in the last 5 years. Whether or not you want to pay that much for the Certified is certainly up to you, but the tomatoes are not somehow bad because of wording on a label. Taste and make decisions - don't let some consortium in Italy that is more mafioso than anything else determine what you buy.

I recently purchased a known, true DOP can which I paid nearly $5 for. I frequently purchase these expensive tomatoes for variety and general interest. The tomatoes were so sour it ruined the pizza entirely. DOP does not guarantee anything but a serial number.

I have been using the Cento Italian lately due to the better price. They are not, however, the same as the Certified with a different label. But they are a great can of tomatoes.

John

Offline dellavecchia

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2630
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #33 on: April 06, 2013, 01:47:02 PM »
My post crossed with Craig's, and he said much of what I was getting at, along with some very good points.

John

Offline Chicago Bob

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 11391
  • Location: Durham,NC
  • Easy peazzy
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #34 on: April 06, 2013, 01:54:47 PM »
Your math may be fine, but your facts aren't. It’s not necessarily the same. They only claim that Cento makes with the “Italian” product (35oz can) is that it is a “Product of Italy.” To the best of my knowledge, their “certified” product is only claimed to be certified San Marzano tomatoes. Nothing more. The “Italian” product may or may not be San Marzano tomato. They don’t say either way.

Perhaps some education is in order. San Marzano is a variety of plum tomato. It can be grown from the volcanic soils of Mt. Vesuvius to the clay soil of my yard here on the coastal plains of Texas. The quality may vary by growing area, but the variety does not. If you start with San Marzano seed, you get San Marzano tomatoes. It doesn’t matter where you grow them; it’s still a San Marzano tomato. D.O.P. certification imposes additional requirements beyond the variety grown – such as the growing region.

Contrast San Marzano tomatoes to Bordeaux wine or Vidalia onions. They are very different. Bordeaux is not a grape variety and Vidalia is not an onion variety. They are the names of the growing region, and in either case, more than one variety can be used. To have the name Bordeaux or Vidalia, the grapes or onions must be grown in the officially defined regions. This is not the case with San Marzano Tomatoes; the growing region only matters is when it comes to D.O.P. certification.

Yes, and this is what Cento has paid to have certified – that they are in fact San Marzano variety tomatoes, and this is all that they are claiming on their labels. You are confusing elements that are not necessarily related. While D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes must be genetically San Marzano tomatoes as you write, D.O.P. signifies more than simply the variety – such as the precise growing region, how they are to be grown, and the size, shape, and color when (hand) harvested. Cento isn’t making a claim on any of this with their “Certified” product. There is no reason why they can’t market genetically pure San Marzano tomatoes that don’t meet the other D.O.P. requirements and call them “certified" San Marzano but not calling them D.O.P.

As for being sweeter, that far from being a given.

No. It’s not, and your olive oil example couldn’t possibly be more apples and oranges. What Cento is doing is not dishonest and illegal as in the case of the olive oil you described. You might think it is misleading, but it is perfectly accurate and legal. At some point, the consumer has to be responsible for educating himself. There are plenty of label requirements to protect against outright fraud as you described in your olive oil example. How many people in the US have ever heard of a D.O.P. San Marzano tomato? Not very many. And, of those that have, how many don’t know to look for D.O.P. on the label? When you get down to it, there is nobody to fool. How do you take advantage of the customer when there are no customers you can take advantage of???

If you’re really worried about companies taking advantage of the customer, why don’t you go after the those selling true D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes that they know are inferior under the D.O.P. label just so that they can charge more money for them? Now that is intentionally misleading and taking advantage of the customer. As far as I’m concerned, they are the scammers. You should be applauding Cento for offering high quality alternatives at better prices. The “Certified” are about $1 less expensive than the D.O.P. items I have available to me, and the value of the “Italian” 35oz product simply can’t be beat.
Spot on as usual Craig, very nice write up.

For my red highlighted words above...how is it that the inferior D.O.P. labeled product receive the "label" if they are inferior tomatoes? Thanks.

Bob
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Offline jeff v

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 1480
  • Location: Orland Park, IL
  • I'm Valentino not Varasano :)
    • Pizzeria Valentino
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #35 on: April 06, 2013, 02:11:48 PM »

I recently purchased a known, true DOP can which I paid nearly $5 for. I frequently purchase these expensive tomatoes for variety and general interest. The tomatoes were so sour it ruined the pizza entirely. DOP does not guarantee anything but a serial number.

My same observation. Tomatoes, like flour are an agricultural crop. They will change. Sometimes adjustments will need to be made including switching brands or a different line within the same brand.
Back to being a civilian pizza maker only.

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 13235
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #36 on: April 06, 2013, 02:12:27 PM »
Spot on as usual Craig, very nice write up.

For my red highlighted words above...how is it that the inferior D.O.P. labeled product receive the "label" if they are inferior tomatoes? Thanks.

Bob

When I wrote "inferior," I simply meant that they don't taste as good as other similar tomatoes D.O.P. or not. I didn't mean inferior as in not meeting the D.O.P. requirements.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline Chicago Bob

  • Lifetime Member
  • *
  • Posts: 11391
  • Location: Durham,NC
  • Easy peazzy
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #37 on: April 06, 2013, 02:38:38 PM »
When I wrote "inferior," I simply meant that they don't taste as good as other similar tomatoes D.O.P. or not. I didn't mean inferior as in not meeting the D.O.P. requirements.
OK thanks Craig....just having a hard time understanding how a tomato could not taste all that great if it is able to meet the DOP requirements. I mean, isn't that what "labeling" is supposed to assure?
"Care Free Highway...let me slip away on you"

Online TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 13235
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #38 on: April 06, 2013, 02:55:47 PM »
OK thanks Craig....just having a hard time understanding how a tomato could not taste all that great if it is able to meet the DOP requirements. I mean, isn't that what "labeling" is supposed to assure?

No, the D.O.P. label is not a taste quality assurance (though the producers are more than happy to have you believe it is). It is an assurance (and not a guarantee) that a certain minimum set of standards are met.

I've had plenty of D.O.P. tomatoes that were poor to downright awful.

Here is the standard if you are interested:
http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&u=http://www.coldiretti.it/aree/ambiente/mangiosano/Disciplinari%2520DOP/Disciplinare%2520Pomodoro%2520San%2520Marzano%2520dell%27agro%2520sarnese-nocerino.htm&prev=/search%3Fq%3DDenominazione%2Bd%2527%2BOrigine%2BProtetta%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26hs%3DdXx%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26prmd%3Div&rurl=translate.google.com&twu=1
Pizza is not bread.

Offline dmcavanagh

  • In Memoriam
  • Posts: 1912
  • Location: Glenmont, NY
Re: San Marzano Scam???
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2013, 04:49:43 PM »
This can easily become a never ending discussion, there is so much "smoke and mirrors " and hocus, pocus going on with San Marzano tomatoes that nobody really "knows" all that goes on behind the scene, and no less what is going on in another country. Judge tomatoes by the ONLY thing that is important, how they taste to you! IMO the best of our own California and New Jersey crops are every bit the equal or better than anything grown anywhere else in the world, Italy included.
Rest In Peace - November 1, 2014