Europe takes its geographical indications seriously, and when it comes to using a protected designation of origin name, no one is above the law… not even, uh, Pringles.
The Italian government confiscated 250 tubes of "Prosecco & Pink Peppercorn" flavored Pringles—released as part of the brand's "Dinner Party" line—because the use of the term "prosecco" had not been approved by the wine's consortium, according to The Guardian. The potato chips were reportedly brought into Italy from the Netherlands to be sold at a supermarket in the Veneto region. Prosecco was officially granted DOC protection in 2009.
"Identity theft must not be allowed," Italian Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova was quoted as saying. "The seizure testifies to the strong commitment of the ministry and the ICQRF, our authority which fights against food fraud and for the protection of quality, to fight against the usurpation of Italian protected names."
Taking a big name like Pringles to task is clearly a good way to spread the word that other brand's need to respect Italy's DOCs in the future… except for one small thing: According to Pringles, they did respect the DOC. "The prosecco and pink peppercorn variant was produced in 2018 as a limited edition for the Christmas holiday period," the company said in a statement. "We used prosecco DOC as an ingredient in the aroma and the use of the name of the product on the packaging was designed in line with DOC guidelines and European regulations. We have no plans to produce this variant in the future."
The Guardian explains that these prosecco-flavored Pringles were originally created for the British market so it's possible that this controversy stems from a difference in how the DOC name is enforced in other parts of the European Union compared to in Italy. Regardless, if I was Italian, my bigger concern would be why the heck is someone trying to sell me nearly year-old Pringles? Whatever the reason, maybe it's best that these are being pulled from shelves.